In Food Network Kitchens, Family Meal is usually a topic we talk about the minute we walk through the door. As you can imagine, we’re juggling numerous projects at once, so it sometimes slips off our radars. That’s exactly what happened yesterday.
Around noon, I got up from my desk and noticed nobody was making lunch — so I stepped in. I saw peeled shrimp left over from a grilling photo shoot and two quarts of marinara sauce. After a little hunting I also found mozzarella cheese. All of these ingredients together equals pure bliss, otherwise known as Shrimp Parmigiana.
To cook the dish, I added oil, chopped garlic and fresh thyme into a pan over medium heat. After two minutes, I added the shrimp and sauteed them until they were cooked through. Next, I deglazed the pan by adding a splash of white wine and the marinara sauce. I finished the dish by topping the shrimp with slices of mozzarella cheese and throwing it under the broiler until the cheese was melted. You can serve it with a loaf of crusty bread on the side and watch everyone smile.
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Until just a few years ago, I thought that all polenta came precooked and wrapped firmly in plastic. When I was in college, my roommates and I would occasionally buy it packaged that way. Once we sawed through the wrapper, we’d cut it into thick rounds and cook those slices in butter until they were crisp and warmed through. Topped with some jarred marinara sauce, we thought it was QUITE the sophisticated meal.
There is nothing wrong with that kind of polenta, but once you taste the freshly cooked kind, all creamy and enriched with Parmesan cheese and a dab of butter, well, there’s no going back. It’s one of my pantry staples, because it can help unify a few leftover odds and ends into a really good meal. My favorite thing to do is top polenta with some pan-wilted spinach and a couple poached eggs. It’s an almost-instant dinner.
I’ve also found that polenta dishes are excellent to share with new parents. They reheat well, last for days in the fridge and are edible comfort for the sleep-deprived.
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It’s not too early to start thinking about dinner this weekend. Ditch those jarred tomato sauces, grab the family and cook up an authentic Italian-style feast in your own kitchen. We’ve compiled an entire menu of trattoria classics, such as pasta with meat sauce, hunter-style chicken, traditional tiramisu and more, so that you can bring the tried-and-true tastes of Italy into your home. Check out our favorite Italian recipes below, then let us know how you prepare your best Italian dishes.
If your Sunday dinners are anything like those at my house, they inevitably involve pasta with meat sauce, and maybe some ravioli or gnocchi, too. Food Network Magazine’s heavenly Sunday Meat Sauce With Orecchiette (pictured above) is full of robust flavors and hearty ingredients, including almost a dozen garlic cloves, authentic San Marzano tomatoes, tender beef and moist meatballs. Instead of resorting to spaghetti or rigatoni, give orecchiette noodles a try — the sauce perfectly coats and seeps into the underbelly of this tiny turtle shell-shaped pasta.
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Most people consider polenta a restaurant food. Because as good as this creamy, cheesy Italian staple is, few of us have the hour needed to crank it out.
But hidden on the grocer’s shelves is a shortcut that can help get polenta on your dinner table any day of the week in minutes: prepared polenta. Which is different — and far better than — a related product known as instant polenta.
But first, some polenta basics.
Polenta is a traditional starch in Italian cooking, an alternative to pasta, rice and potatoes that pairs deliciously well with robust sauces and meats.
Polenta is made by slowly simmering and stirring cornmeal with chicken broth or water. It’s usually also seasoned with Parmesan cheese and butter.
Get the recipe for Spicy Pork With Polenta »
Don’t have time to make homemade crust? Visit your favorite local pizzeria and ask them if you can purchase fresh dough. After you’ve stretched it out, top it with three kinds of cheese (fontina, mozzarella and a creamy goat cheese) and bake it until the crust is crisp. Finish by adding a pile of dressed arugula on top.
Get the recipe: White Pizzas With Arugula
Browse more of Food Network’s Italian pizza recipes.
- Food Network Facebook fans "like" Fettuccini Alfredo
We asked our Facebook fans for their favorite Italian dish today and the response was overwhelming — over 1,000 fans commented! But most impressive wasn’t the number of posts, it was the list of mouthwatering ideas; scrolling through is like reading the ultimate Italian menu.
Many fans couldn’t decide on a favorite dish and commented that they loved anything Italian, while others got creative with “dish” and let us know their Italian crush — Giada De Laurentiis, Sophia Lauren, Antonio Sabato Jr., James Gandolfini, Jon Bon Jovi (is he Italian?), Al Pacino and someone named Sergio at a neighborhood pizzeria.
Other highlights from the post include Italian dishes both classic and unexpected:
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