how-to-host-a-fabulous-dinner-partyEasy and fun, Italian meals are sure to please every guest and are good for new and experienced hosts alike.  Let Pazzo Pazzo Italian Cuisine show you the ropes when it comes to throwing a one of a kind dinner party! There are many Italian meals that are savory and filling without labor-intensive hours in the kitchen. Even the basic spaghetti and meatballs dish is always a crowd-pleaser. Save yourself some time and effort without sacrificing quality or satisfaction.

Thinking About Courses

Just like any specialty cuisine, there are Italian dishes ranging from easy to challenging to cook and prepare. For this guide we are focusing on beginner level recipes that everybody can get in on.

Drinks

For casual drinkers, the Garibaldi is a low-alcohol drink invented in the 1960’s, which contains 3/10 of bitter Campari and 7/10 of orange juice. You can also garnish with an orange, if you like.

Another option is the martini cocktail, which was invented by Arma di Taggia in Italy in 1910. There are many variations on this classic (see blow), so each one of your guests can customize their beverage.

If you have an espresso maker, you can always finish your meal with a small cup mixed with sugar to taste. This is also served sometimes with grappa. Grappa is a “digestive” liquor that often makes an appearance at the end of meals. You can also drink genepi or strega, two other popular post-dinner options.

Appetizers

Bruschetta is an easy go-to, of course. It’s delicious and easy to make. Did you know there are sweet variations of bruschetta made with strawberries, too? Why not give it a try, to mix things up a bit with a Grilled Strawberry and Tomato Bruschetta (recipe below).

Main Course

An Italian casserole is an easy dish to prepare ahead of time and just pop into the oven when needed. It is also very flexible in accommodating however many people you are serving. Halving or doubling a casserole recipe will not diminish the quality of the food. For something quick, easy, and delicious, try the Cheesy Pesto and Chicken Pasta Bake (below).

Dessert

Let’s go with a classic: Tiramisu! While “authentic” Tiramisu can be a big task to make, there are easy recipes for casual, at-home versions of this rich and delicious treat.

And lastly, don’t forget the Italian wine, which can be served throughout dinner. And with that you have a complete, easy-to-do Italian-style dinner party at your fingertips. Enjoy!

Recipes

Martini Variations

Perfect Martini

8/10 of gin

1/10 of dry vermouth

1/10 of sweet red vermouth

Martini Vodka

8/10 of vodka

2/10 of vermouth dry

Sweet Martini

8/10 of gin

2/10 sweet red vermouth

garnished with a cherry

Medium Martini (made with dry and sweet martinis)

8/10 of gin

1/10 of sweet red vermouth

1/10 of dry vermouth

garnished with cocktail onion or lemon twist

Grilled Strawberry Bruschetta

20 mins. | serves 6

8 slices of French bread

Olive oil

4 oz goat cheese, softened

1 cup whole strawberries

1 cup cherry tomatoes

1 tsp dry thyme leaves, crushed

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

  1. Heat grill and brush bread with olive oil. Place bread on grill, cook until browned. Top each slice with approximately 1 tbsp cheese.
  2. Place strawberries and tomatoes on skewers or grill pan. Grill 3 to 4 minutes. Chop and add thyme and balsamic vinegar.
  3. Scoop mixture onto bread slices. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Pesto and Chicken Pasta Bake

30 mins. | serves 4

1 lb dried ziti or penne pasta

4 Tbsp unsalted butter

¼ cup flour

3 cup milk

6-8 oz pesto (If using store bought pesto, start with 4 oz and add a little at a time, to taste)

8 oz shredded Italian cheese blend (mozzarella, start with 4 oz and add a little at a time, to taste) provolone, romano, fontina, asiago, and parmesan)

12 oz precooked chicken, diced

8 oz tomato sauce (or favorite pasta sauce)

4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded

5 oz fresh Parmesan cheese, start with 4 oz and add a little at a time, to taste) provolone, romano, fontina, asiago, and parmesan) grated, divided

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add a handful of salt. Cook pasta to al dente; meaning it still has a little bite to it. Al dente pasta absorbs sauce better while it cooks and this is going into the oven.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium sauce pan (about 4 quarts) over medium heat, melt butter, add flour and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes to cook out the “flour-y” taste. Add milk whisk to combine. Add pesto and whisk together. Once combined add Italian cheese and ½ of Parmesan cheese. Stir with a spoon to combine. Allow to simmer until pasta is cooked.
  4. Add chicken to the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour pesto cheese sauce over top. Add pasta. Stir to combine and mix well. Smooth pasta with a spoon and pour tomato sauce over top. Sprinkle mozzarella cheese and remaining parmesan cheese on the top.
  5. Place baking dish on a cookie sheet and bake for 6-8 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve and enjoy!

Tiramisu

20 mins. | serves 6-8

1 (8 oz) container mascarpone cheese

32 french-style ladyfinger cookies

2/3 C powdered sugar

¾ cup whipping cream

2 ½ C dark warm brewed coffee

unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting

  1. Brew the coffee.
  2. In a medium bowl, beat cream and sugar with an electric mixer until soft peaks form.
  3. Add the ROOM TEMPERATURE Mascarpone Cheese into the sugar and cream and mix carefully.
  4. In another bowl pour the warm coffee and dip cookies.
  5. Quickly arranging them side by side over the bottom of a lined loaf pan (Allow the plastic wrap to extend on the sides so you can take it out easily when it is ready to serve).
  6. Layer cookies with the sweet cream and continue layering with another set of cookies (Will allow three layers).
  7. When done layering, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate and allow at least two hours for it to set. (Over night is even better).
  8. Before serving take it out of the loaf pan remove plastic wrap and sift cocoa powder.