Italian Recipes for Columbus Day
More than 500 years ago the expedition headed by Christopher Columbus reached the islands of the today Caribbean Sea. On October 12th, 1492, the experienced Italian navigator is believed to step on the solid ground of the New World. Although he himself was sure that he found another shipping route to the desirable coasts of India, this fact did not prevent the U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Congress from proclaiming October 12th a federal holiday in 1937. Since 1970 until nowadays Columbus Day has been celebrated on the second Monday of October.
So this year we are going to commemorate this historically significant Columbus’s deed on October 10th. By the way, most of the holiday celebrations are usually sponsored by Italians, who live in the U.S. and dedicate this day to honoring Italian American heritage.
Whatever, Columbus Day is always a nice opportunity to remember the history and muse over how it all could be unless signore Cristoforo Colombo had not taken his impressive adventure ever. Besides, it can be a good reason for following some Columbus Day sales and look up some delectable Italian recipes for your dinner.
A Few More Columbus Day Facts
Nowadays this very federal holiday is quite controversial. Some states do not acknowledge it as Columbus Day, and celebrate it as Native American Day (South Dakota), Discovery Day (Hawaii) or Indigenous Peoples Day (California). Besides, many businesses, post offices, shops and schools do not have Columbus Day as a public holiday.
Such situation can be explained by two main reasons.
Firstly, the very first Columbus Day was held in 1792 as the 300th anniversary of Columbus’s crossing the Atlantic. Later, however, it was found out that Scandinavian Vikings landed on the North American shores about 1000 years before Columbus and even settled there. In addition, the Hawaii islands were discovered by the Polynesians and not by Columbus’s crew.
Secondly, Christopher Columbus never stepped on the land of North America, which now belongs to the United States. He explored the Caribbean islands, including the Bahamas, and the northern coast of South American continent. Furthermore, the discoverer was also sometimes described as a very cruel man whose crew enslaved and murdered many local people.
The past is difficult to judge, however. What we can do in order not to hurt each other’s feelings is to remember the achievements and mistakes of the past and make the wise conclusions basing on them.
Since 2004 Italy has observed Columbus Day as the commemoration of Columbus’s achievements and this is, probably, how it should be actually treated.
Then What About Something Italian?
At Marky’s Gourmet Store we have come up with a few versatile and quite portable ideas for your holiday menu, so that it could be easily turned either into a cozy and delicious fall picnic or into warm and flavorful family dinner.
As long as we have decided to stay on the holiday trend and provide our dear customers with a nice Columbus Day sale, here we offer you the exquisite selection of 5 Italian meat recipes to enjoy the best of your time with the best of traditional Italian cuisine.
Grilled Prosciutto and Basil Wrapped Shrimp
- 24 fresh basil leaves
- 12 thin slices prosciutto, each cut in half lengthwise
- 24 extra-large shrimp, peeled and deveined, or large sea scallops
- 24 bamboo skewers, soaked in water for at least 30 minutes before grilling
Garlic Dipping Sauce:
- 1/3 c. red wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic, chopped
- 1 c. olive oil
1. Place 1 basil leaf at the short end of a slice of prosciutto and a shrimp on top of the basil. Roll the shrimp in the prosciutto, then thread lengthwise onto a skewer. Repeat with the remaining basil, prosciutto, and shrimp. Place the skewers on a baking sheet and refrigerate until ready to cook.
2. To make the sauce, combine the vinegar, mustard and garlic in a food processor or blender. With the machine running, add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. Process until combined. 10-15 minutes before you are ready to grill, spoon about 1/3 of the sauce over the shrimp skewers to marinate. Transfer the rest of the dipping sauce to a small bowl.
3. Prepare a medium-hot fire in a grill. Grill the shrimp, turning often, until opaque, about 6 minutes. 4. Arrange the cooked skewers on a platter and serve with the dipping sauce on the side.
Italian Sausage Sandwiches with Peppers and Onions
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 4 large green or red bell peppers, or a mixture of both, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- 2 large onions, sliced
- 3 large cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp dried oregano, basil or a combination of both
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 pounds Italian sausage, mild or hot
- 8 medium crusty hoagie or steak sandwich rolls
1. Heat olive oil in large sauté over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until slightly wilted (see notes below). Add garlic and cook one more minute. Add peppers and seasonings; stir to combine. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until peppers are very tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and cook a little longer to evaporate liquids.
2. Meanwhile, cut sausage into desired size for sandwiches, allowing for shrinkage. Place on hot grill and cook until browned on all sides and thoroughly done (see notes below). If desired, place cooked sausages in pan with peppers to keep warm. To serve, place a sausage in roll and top with peppers and onions.
Notes: If preferred, the peppers and onions can be grilled or roasted in oven. The sausages can be cooked on a grill pan, pan-fried, baked or broiled. Try to purchase a good sausage that is well seasoned. The seasonings vary greatly depending on where you live. If desired, you can use Italian-style turkey or chicken sausage. A little tomato sauce can be added to the peppers and onions for a saucy variation.
Italian Sausage Balls
- 1 lb. Italian sausage
- 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (grated)
- 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg (lightly beaten)
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease a large baking sheet.
2. In a large bowl mix together all of the ingredients until thoroughly blended. Pinch off bits of the mixture and form them into 1-inch balls. Gently place them on the baking sheet 1-1/2 inches apart.
3. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until a deep golden brown, flipping the sausage balls over halfway through.
Italian Sausage Appetizer Bread
- 1 Italian sausage
- 1 (1 lb.) loaf frozen white bread dough, thawed
- 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (7 oz.) jar roasted red peppers, well drained and sliced
- 1/3 cup olives, pitted and sliced
- 2 cups shredded Swiss cheese
- 1 tsp poppy seeds
1. In a skillet, brown sausage until no longer pink; drain.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll bread dough to a 16-inch x 12-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to a greased baking sheet.
3. Combine cream cheese and garlic, spread lengthwise over center third of dough. Top with the sausage, peppers, olives and cheese. Fold dough over filling, pinching seam to seal. Make slits across top of dough every 2 inches. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with poppy seeds.
4. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand 10 minutes before slicing.
Sausage, Cheese and Basil Lasagna
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 lb. spicy Italian sausages, casings removed
- 1 c. chopped onion
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/4 tsp dried crushed red pepper
- 1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes with added puree
- 1 14 1/2 oz. can diced tomatoes with green pepper and onion, liquid reserved
- 1 1/2 c. (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 1 15 oz. container plus 1 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
- 1 1/2 C. (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 6 oz.)
- 3/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 oz.)
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
- 12 no-boil lasagna noodles from 1 8 oz. package
- 3 c. (packed) grated mozzarella cheese (about 12 oz.)
- 1 c. grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 oz.)
- nonstick olive oil spray
1. To make sauce, heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausages, onion, garlic, oregano and crushed red pepper and sauté until sausage is cooked through, mashing sausage into small pieces with back of fork, about 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes and diced tomatoes with juices. Bring sauce to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors. Season with salt and pepper.
2. To make filling, using on/off turns, chop fresh basil leaves finely in processor. Add ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, egg, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Using on/off turns, process filling until just blended and texture is still chunky.
3. To assemble, preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spread 1 1/4 c. sauce in 13x9x2-inch glass baking dish. Arrange 3 noodles on sauce. Drop 1 1/2 c. filling over noodles, then spread evenly to cover. Sprinkle with 3/4 c. Mozzarella cheese and 1/4 c. Parmesan cheese. Repeat layering of sauce, noodles, filling and cheeses 2 more times. Top with remaining 3 noodles. Spoon remaining sauce on top of noodles. Sprinkle with remaining cheeses. Spray large piece of foil with nonstick olive oil spray. Cover lasagna with foil, sprayed side down.
4. Bake lasagna 40 minutes. Carefully uncover. Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until noodles are tender, sauce bubbles thickly and edges of lasagna are golden and puffed, about 20 minutes. Transfer to work surface; let stand 15 minutes before serving.