It may come as no surprise to you that one of the oldest cookbooks ever discovered is of Italian origin. Well, Roman origin, since the country of Italy did not exist in its current form until 1861. The Apicius dates back to the 4th century AD and its title became synonymous with passion for exuberant, refined foods. Some of its true Italian recipes include roast wild boar, ostrich ragu, and lobster croquettes. Doesn’t it sound like a banquet straight from Game of Thrones?
Throughout the years, Italian food has crafted a careful balance between low-brow, peasant foods and high-brow, refined delicacies, concocting mouth-watering inventions that have come to rule the world. Follow the true Italian recipes below for a taste of authentic Italian cooking, combining elegance and pragmatism. After all, you don’t need to be a Roman emperor to eat like one. Here’s our suggested menu for your feast:
Aperitivo: Vermouth, Prosecco, or a Martini
Primo: Pesto Gnocchi
Secondo: Arugula-Prosciutto Pizza
Extra virgin olive oil
First of all, drain the tomatoes and chop them, along with the red onion (in very small pieces) and, let’s say, seven leaves of fresh basil. Grab a couple cloves of garlic and crush them. Now, find a large bowl and mix the onions, garlic, basil, and tomatoes. Be careful so the mixture does not get mushy. Add the olive oil, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar to your taste. Mix it thoroughly and let it refrigerate for an hour to activate all the flavors. Cut the baguette in thick diagonal slices and toast them until they are light brown. That’s it, it’s ready to serve! You can serve the bruschetta with the chilled blend of tomatoes, or you can remove them from the fridge before serving. Enjoy one of the absolute staples of true Italian recipes!
Four large potatoes
For every potato you use, you will need a little over ½ cup of flour. Boil your potatoes with their skin on for about 20 minutes. Drain the boiled potatoes well and peel them. Use a potato ricer to rice them. Find a very clean, very dry surface and mound your riced potatoes. Add flour and sprinkle some salt. Now, hands on! Scoop out the center of your potato mountain so that it looks more like a volcano now, where you will break an egg. Beat the egg and after a few minutes let the fork bring in the potato-flour mix. Use your hands to form the dough until it’s loose and airy.
Don’t over-knead it and don’t add too much flour! Now, shape it into a rectangle and cut it 4-inch pieces, like sourdough bread slices. Roll the pieces into ropes and use a non-serrated knife to cut your little 1-inch gnocchi. Toss some flour over your gnocchi before cooking and shake to remove the excess once it’s ready to go to the pot. Cook it in a large pot with boiling water, each batch shouldn’t take more than 2-4 minutes to be ready. Now, onto the sauce!
Extra-virgin olive oil
Grind four cloves of garlic with sea salt until you have made a paste. Add a few basil leaves, one at a time, and keep grinding. You will need to crush the basil really well so it releases all of its juices. Add the pine nuts and parmesan and continue to grind it into a paste. Now, drizzle ½ cup olive oil and mix it. Incorporate it into the gnocchi in a saucepan and mix well.
[Are you looking for quicker true Italian recipes? No worries, we got you!]
Pre-made dough (yes, I know, it’s a culinary sin, but shhhh… we won’t tell, if you don’t)
Extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Throw some flour on a dry, clean surface and roll out your pre-made pizza dough (if you had it in the fridge, it needs to reach room temperature before you work it). Once it’s in the right shape, size, etc, transfer it to a baking sheet coated with flour and have it bake for a little less than 10 minutes. In the meantime, mix two tablespoons of olive oil with some grated garlic, salt, pepper, and rosemary.
Remove the pizza from the oven and distribute the olive oil mix. Add the ricotta and shredded mozzarella. Let it bake for another five minutes. Meanwhile, squeeze the juice of a lemon half onto the arugula, some more olive oil (2 tablespoons max), salt and pepper. Cover the pizza with the arugula, grated parmesan, and prosciutto. Enjoy!