Pasta & Italian Week

Last week was our fourth week cooking from a random cookbook – this one was Practical Pasta & Italian by Fiona Biggs.


Monday’s dinner started with onion & mozzarella tarts  (pg. 58) – I started with pre-cut puff pastry shells, and sauteed the onions and peppers before I added them to the baked shells. They were tasty and definitely an app to repeat.

Monday’s main dish was garlic & herb chicken (pg. 153), which I served with sauteed kale and happy rich greens (a kale/broccoli cross). The sauce is killer, and the prosciutto wrapping the chicken adds a salty bite. I made a few changes by using chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts, and white wine instead of red. This is also a recipe to repeat.


We had a celebratory dinner on Tuesday, so put Italian week on hold.


We had Monday & Tuesday leftovers. =)


On Thursday, we had pork stuffed with prosciutto (pg. 132). I added a little stale bread to the stuffing to give it more body, and switched out the sundried tomatoes for a little vodka sauce. On the side, we had a tasty Seven Whole Grain pilaf by Seeds of Change.

The pork was tasty, but the name is a little misleading – the prosciutto goes around the outside, not in the stuffing! I’d say if we make this again, I’d put prosciutto on the inside, too.


On Friday, we had Day 2 of pork with pork cooked in milk (pg. 130). On the side, we had another pilaf by Seeds of Change – this one was Quinoa & Brown Rice, my favorite of the ones we’ve tried so far.

The pork was ok, but the sauce wasn’t appetizing since the milk separated during the cooking process. I would have liked it better had it been cooked in broth, and the sauce blended, reduced and finished with a little cream – maybe even with a sprinkling of cracked peppercorns.


Last night’s dinner was sort of a combo between pasta & shrimp packages (pg. 110) and pasta with cheese & broccoli (pg. 192). I followed the directions for the first recipe, but added in a little mascarpone cheese with the pesto and added broccoli florets to the packages before baking them.

This was one of the few times I have cooked a dish en papillote (in parchment) – the dish may have been Italian in ingredients, but that technique is super-French, too. The white wine added right before baking helps everything steam and all of the flavors get together. Overall, with a spritz of fresh lemon juice, this dish is completely delicious.


I rounded out Italian week with a fresh Sunday lunch of a caprese-inspired salad – not so much from the book, but definitely from the garden.

Around the outside of the plate, layers of green cucumber (from our garden at home), white cucumber (from my parents’ garden and grown from these seeds), and slices of fresh, milky bocconcini by Maplebrook Farm (based in VT!!). The cucumber and mozz were drizzled with a dash of vinagre de jerez (Spanish sherry vinegar), olive oil, sea salt and freshly-ground peppercorns.

In the middle of the plate, juicy grape tomatoes  tossed with a chiffonade of lemon basil and a sherry vinaigrette. Unfortunately, these tomatoes were NOT from our garden, given that the few that have ripened have been consumed before even getting back into the house. None-the-less, the salad was super fresh, bright, and delicious.

Best Dish of the Week?

Tricky question – I’d say it was a TIE! That is, between everything except for the pork cooked in milk, which needs some help on the sauce.

Other posts (by me!) featuring pasta:  click here

Other posts (by me!) featuring Italian food: click here


Two years ago today: Chilled Silken Potato Soup with Dill

Three years ago today: Museo Sorolla

Five years ago today: leftovers: Shalimar of India

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