6 Wined-Up Italian Dishes
Italian food is the ultimate comfort cuisine. They’ve cracked the formula for ending the day on a high note: a solid helping of cheese, a little tomato sauce and a lot of wine. And though there are plenty of Italian dishes out there to satisfy your cheese cravings (hello, lasagna!) there’s more to real Italian food than that.
Watch your nonna—she knows best. Cook with a lot of olive oil, garlic and a lot of wine you can drink while preparing your meal. When choosing your wine, anything goes based on what you prefer, though keep in mind that whatever flavors are in the wine will concentrate when added to a dish. Most recipes will specify the kind of wine (dry, fruity, etc.) you’ll need.
Get ready to say “buon appetito” to these classic Italian dishes that have wine as the not-so-secret ingredient:
1. White Wine: Cioppino
Cioppino is a classic Neopolitan dish made with clams, mussels, shrimp and other delicacies from the sea. It’s always a crowd-pleaser in the summer. Though this soup does take some time, the payoff is worth it. Be sure to use super-fresh fish for maximum flavor. This dish is best made with white wine, though you can use either white or red, depending on your preferences.
2. Red or White Wine: Mostarda
A common Italian starter involves crostini, a type of toasted crusty bread, with bruschetta, usually a fresh blend of tomatoes and olive oil. A variation on bruschetta comes with mostarda, a fruit-based condiment often found in Northern Italy. This tastes phenomenal paired with soft cheeses—think of it as a beefed-up version of your favorite jam you pair with brie.
You can use any combination of fruits, but it’s most common to use some kind of citrus mixed with pears or cranberries—and of course, soaked in wine. Depending on the recipe and your preference, you can use red or white wine.
3. Red Wine: Drunken Pasta
Cooking 101 usually involves learning how to boil water and make pasta. Kick your pasta up a notch by boiling it in red wine and water instead—called “drunken pasta”—and you’ll never go back to the regular stuff again.
This works best with a bright, vibrant red like a Chianti or a Montepulciano D’Abruzzo.
4. White Wine: Braciole
Braciole is a term often used to refer to different cuts of meat, but in southern Italy, it’s a dish with pinwheels of meat stuffed with breadcrumbs, cheese and spices and topped with a hearty tomato sauce. Often prepared with beef, there are plenty of varieties on this dish without losing flavor—experiment with pork, eggplant or a meatier fish like swordfish.
It’s a bit complicated to make, but it’s flavorful, moist and tasty, perfect to wow guests at a dinner party or for a special occasion.
5. Red Wine: Braised Short Ribs
This is the kind of dish that’s even more flavorful when you let it sit overnight and a great option for your Crock-Pot. Once you’ve browned the short ribs, soak them in a combination of red wine, onions, garlic and tomato paste and cook until thoroughly tender, about 2-2 ½ hours. Let your home fill with the mouthwatering scent of delicious, savory meat.
6. White Wine: Chicken Picatta
An Italian staple, the chicken picatta is a light, lemony dish. Some variations use breadcrumbs to coat and pan-fry the chicken, but it’s not necessary to make this taste amazing. It works best with thin-sliced cutlets (either purchased that way or pounded yourself) and a dry white wine. Add artichokes or roasted cherry tomatoes for extra deliciousness.
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