Entertaining Italian Style

Want to cook like a nonna but don’t have one at home to show you how?

Don’t worry, we have plenty of tips, tricks and ideas on how to cook, eat and entertain like a true Italian.

First of all, Italians are generous. Leave behind ideas of big-white-plates-with-tiny-portions-of-food and make sure there’s more than plenty to go round. Serve food family-style, from big help-yourself platters so that everyone can take as much as they want.

Remember, the best Italian food is created by letting the natural properties of ingredients shine. When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables cook with what’s in season. This means leaving pasta sauces with fresh tomatoes for late summer when tomatoes are at their best and using good quality passatas and peeled tomatoes for the rest of the year.

Speaking of canned tomatoes, seek out top notch store cupboard staples such as extra virgin olive oil and real balsamic vinegar from Modena. These may seem expensive, but you’ll taste the difference.

When it comes to working out a menu, the variety offered up by Italy’s many regional cuisines leaves you spoiled for choice. So, for example, if you wanted to have a dinner showcasing one of the great dishes of Roman cuisine, you could try Marco Pierre White’s Spaghetti Carbonara.

While most Italians would offer a first course of pasta or soup, a second meat or fish-based course and follow up with fruit or dessert, you can make life simpler by serving a hearty but impressive one-course dish. George’s Lasagne with Pork and Veal Meatballs fits the bill – he might have a Greek surname but his father’s side Italian roots are definitely showing in this dish!

Then there’s dessert. For special occasions, Italians often outsource the sweet course to their local patisserie, and if you’re lucky to have one close by that’s a good option, but you could also try your hand at one of our many light and airy Panna Cotta recipes.

To drink, serve still or sparkling water and plenty of wine. If you want to pretend you’re in Naples, finish with a well-chilled limoncello – the classic lemon liquor of the Campania region.

And don’t forget good crusty bread – no self-respecting Italian considers it a meal without it.

Above all, eat, drink, relax and talk endlessly about the food – because that’s what Italians do. Buon appetito!