I ordered Teresa Giudice's (of RHONJ fame) cookbook Skinny Italian from amazon recently, and let me tell you, there are some great ideas in there. The premise of the book is more "Healthful, Enjoyable, Fun Italian" than "Skinny Italian" but as "skinny" is such a popular buzzword right now... (jeans, margaritas, in the kitch)... it probably is a good title to help sell the book.
If you're a fan of the show, you'll enjoy all the family photos and chatty narrative. If you're not a fan, but you don't mind, this book is loaded with fun tips and history about Italian cooking: How should you store garlic? How do you pronounce all those fancy specialty pasta names? What exactly is canola oil? ...and some really great recipes.
The first thing I made, about a week ago, was Milania's Marinara Sauce and it really did feel GREAT to make my own sauce rather than just open a jar from the grocery store shelf. It was so easy and the house smelled amazing. I felt like a real cook!
Last night I made the Panzanella Salad from page 214 - again, it turned out great and the kids loved it (they picked out the olives, but I knew that was going to happen). I did a search on this Italian bread salad and discovered it is quite popular and there are lots of versions out there. This is definitely one to try.
So, here's what you need (adapted from the recipe in the book):
1-3 day old loaf of French or Italian bread for croutons - you'll cube this and coat in a whisked mixture of 1/3 c olive oil, 2 minced garlic cloves and 1/8 tsp salt (I drizzled a little more olive oil in)
and for the salad:
1/4 c balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 c olive oil
4 or 5 tomatoes (book calls for 4 large, I used 5 medium - next time I'll probably do one more), diced
4 oz fresh mozzarella (I think I used more)
1/2 cup kalamata olives (I just cut in half, book calls for chopped)
1/2 red onion, diced
fresh basil leaves torn into pieces
1 Tbsp capers, drained
After you coat the bread cubes, spread them out on a pan and pop in the oven at 400 F for about 10 minutes:
Meanwhile, get everything chopped and diced:
When the croutons are done, Teresa has you combine it all, but we had to head out for piano lessons soon and I knew I'd be rolling in a couple hours later at 6pm with three hungry kids, so I combined everything but the croutons in a bowl and put it in the fridge.
When we got home, I added in the croutons and let it set for about 10 minutes while I cooked up a little pasta with butter (just in case the salad didn't go over with the little ones - but it most certainly did - they loved it).
I'm looking forward to whipping up more of the sauces, pasta dishes, maybe a pizza or two, and the delish looking Bellinis. Salute!