This Monday we celebrate Columbus Day, and the beloved Italian-American heritage in the United States. And what better way to celebrate than paying homage to the rich culinary traditions of Italy, a country where eating, drinking and la dolce vita is almost as important as going to church on Sundays?
We especially love to enjoy Italian dishes in the fall, when hearty polentas, rich risottos, plump gnocchi, and crunchy biscotti paired with tall lattes, are warm and comforting and perfect for the cooler weather ahead.
So in honor of Columbus Day, here are our 6 favorite Italian dishes and Italian recipes for the season (and any season!):
The Dish: Risotto
The Recipe: Truffled Risotto With Sauteed Scallops
Risotto is a quintessentially Italian dish, a one-pot (or pan) wonder that is designed to feed a large famiglia. The recipe originated in Northern Italy, but today is savored everywhere. It starts with a special kind of rice, high-starch and short-grained, like Arborio or Carnaroli rice. Our version is beefed (or should we say, truffled) up with truffled cheese, fresh grated truffle and plump sautéed scallops.
View Truffle Risotto With Sauteed Scallops Recipe
The Dish: Italian Gnocchi
The Recipe: Pumpkin Gnocchi
A traditional gnocchi dish is a classic handmade short dumpling pasta that’s served in almost all Italian households, paired with a sauce like sage butter. The classic version of gnocchi is made with semolina flour, which can be quite heavy, so our gnocchi recipe uses a healthier alternative: pumpkin (or butternut squash). Superbly flavorful and filled with all the nutritional properties of pumpkin, this is a great Italian-inspired midweek dinner dish.
View Pumpkin Gnocchi Recipe
The Dish: Crostini (Bruschetta)
The Recipe: Fresh Black Truffle Crostini
This is our favorite Italian appetizer for when we're feeling lazy or rushed. We love that crostini is just a sophisticated Italian way of saying “toast” – more specifically, “small toast”. It’s just so much more glamorous! This Italian appetizer is super easy to prepare, and with some imagination, it can be delicious and luxurious. Just toast some bread and add whatever topping you have on hand. We made our Crostini with another luxurious Italian ingredient: fresh Italian black truffles. These aromatic mushrooms paired with fresh tomatoes, some truffle salt and truffle oil, takes this “little toast” to a whole new level.
View Fresh Black Truffle Crostini Recipe
The Dish: Panna Cotta
The Recipe: White Chocolate and Raspberry Panna Cotta
This creamy and decadent Italian dessert is made with lots of heavy cream that’s sweetened with sugar and thickened with gelatin so that it “sets”, and stays elegantly put on a plate. Panna Cotta is supposedly a Piedmontese specialty, but there’s little record of it before the 1960s. Similar to a custard, panna cotta - Italian for “cooked cream” – can be flavored with almost anything, which makes it the perfect vehicle for seasonal fruit. Our version is made with sweet white chocolate and raspberry jam, and garnished with raspberries, but you can easily substitute for whatever you have on hand, or your favorite preserve and fruit.
View White Chocolate and Raspberry Panna Cotta Recipe
The Dish: Biscotti
The Recipe: Chocolate-Dipped Walnut Biscotti
What’s the perfect treat to pair your pumpkin spice latte this fall? A crunchy and nutty biscotti, of course! Biscotto (the singular for biscotti) is Italian for “twice cooked”, which is exactly how this biscuit is made. Biscotti were cooked twice in order to make them less perishable, and so could be taken on long journeys back in Roman times (yes, the biscotti recipe is THAT old). Our biscotti recipe uses crunchy walnuts, and it’s dipped in delicious chocolate for an extra sweet indulgence. The perfect anytime treat to pair with a steaming cup of espresso or tea.
View Chocolate Dipped Walnut Biscotti Recipe
The Dish: Nutella
The Recipe: Nutella Crepe Cake
If there’s an Italian word that immediately makes us salivate, it’s the word “Nutella”. This Italian paste of sweetened hazelnut chocolate was created by Pietro Ferrero in the mid 1940s in Alba, Piedmont, a region rich in hazelnuts. Spread over toast, on a croissant, or just eaten with our spoon, Nutella is our favorite Italian sweet treat, and it’s perfectly showcased in our Nutella Crepe Cake recipe. Super, super easy to make, you can make this “cake” using ready-made crepes, or you can make your own. And then just slather them with Nutella, no holding back! This delicate cake is perfect for the holidays, but you can serve it year-round (or when you have a jar of Nutella around).
View Nutella Crepe Cake Recipe
This week, we’re celebrating Columbus Day with an Italian foods sale! So stock up on your Italian favorites! Mangia, Mangia!
Shop The Italian Sale!