Create hearty meals with dishes that complement each other.
Set the theme for your meal with a familiar Italian dish or an interesting new entree. Then build the meal around it.
The first course (primo piatto) usually consists of pasta, risotto, or soup. Pasta is the popular choice for the first course because it is so versatile -- it can be tossed, baked, or stuffed with a variety of fresh ingredients or topped with many different sauces.
The second course (secondo piatto) of meat, poultry, fish, or seafood is presented with at least one and sometimes two vegetable side dishes. A crisp garden salad may take the place of a vegetable dish, although Italians sometimes serve salad after the second course. Breadsticks or crusty Italian bread and a glass of wine may complete the second course. Popular red wines include Chianti, Lambrusco, Bardolino, Valpolicella, Barbaresco, and Barolo. Popular white wines include Frascati and Soave.
Dessert, fruit, and/or cheese courses follow the second course. A sweet dessert wine, such as port, Tokay, cream sherry, or Marsala, may be served. Italians usually conclude the meal with a tiny cup of full-bodied espresso coffee.
Meals for special occasions are more elaborate and often begin with an antipasto course. Antipasto means "before the meal." The course consists of a blend of meat, fish, seafood, vegetable, and/or fruit appetizers. The antipasto often is accompanied by a light wine.
We've taken the hassle out of planning a tasty meal for you and your family. Here's more than a week's worth of menus to get you started on eating low-fat meals -- the Italian way.