Several of our Maine gourmet group joined us in Cortona for the April Foodie Adventure, so when we met for our first summer meal it seemed right to recreate some of what we made.
Setting the table to inspire memories of Italy was easy. The centerpiece was a $3 find from the local Goodwill.
Clusters of red grapes repeated the look of the clusters on the candelabra. Talk about an easy creation!
Dishes, each with a different Italian landscape and wine, bought some years ago at TJ Maxx completed the theme.
It’s hard to imagine a table coming together more quickly than this one. With the plates having so much color and energy, there was no need for more than a simple background.
Now for the meal. We prepared so many good dinners that it was hard to pick favorite dishes, but I finally decided on mozzarella with prosciutto and tomato confit for an appetizer and seafood pasta for the main course. The appetizer was a big hit, and you might want to give it a try at your next Italian themed dinner gathering.
PROSCIUTTO BAKED BUFFALO MOZZARELLAWITH GARLIC & TOMATOES
2 T. olive oil
6 thin slices prosciutto
Tomato & Garlic Confit
6 6 oz. balls mozzarella
2 T. basil, coarsely chopped
Brush the insides of small ovenproof ramekins with olive oil. Line them with prosciutto, allowing some of it to extend to the top of the dish so it will crisp when baked.
Add 2 T. of the confit and top will a ball of the mozzarella. Top with another tablespoon of the confit and drizzle with the remaining olive oil.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Tope with basil and serve with crisp crostini.
Tomato & Garlic Confit
10 plum tomatoes
5 T. olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper
1/2 c. finely chopped yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, minced
8 oz. tomato sauce
1/2 t. sweet paprika
1/2 t. sugar.
Core and halve the tomatoes lengthwise. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and drizzle them with 2 T. of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 40 minutes at 350.
Heat 3 T. olive oil in a medium pan and sweat the onions for 2 minutes over medium high heat. Add garlic and cook briefly. Reduce the heat and add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, paprika and sugar. Cook for 30-35 minutes or until the mixture becomes very thick.
Place the mixture in a food processor and blend to a fine paste.
Note: I suggest using only 1/2 mozzarella ball or 3-4 little ones as this is quite filling. Also, when you bake be sure to put the dishes on a cookie sheet to avoid trashing your oven with grease from the prosciutto. I wouldn’t let the meat overlap the sides of the dish.
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