When you go to an Italian restaurant, are you ever stumped by what to order with your main entree? Well — besides pasta and wine — there are wonderful Italian side dishes, perfectly created to accompany your meal.
Here are just a few to get you started for your next Italian restaurant venture:
Although there are variations to traditional Caprese salads, there are a few ingredients that are standard. Caprese salad will always include tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil, and sweet basil leaves. This is a great appetizer or a side salad choice for any Italian meal. And here’s an easy version, you can make right at home.
Slice ripe tomatoes and place them on a platter. Drizzle with a quality extra virgin olive oil. Add sea salt and pepper. Next, layer the tomato slices with a whole sweet basil leaf. Lastly, add thin wedges of fresh mozzarella. Note: it never hurts to top with an extra drizzle of olive oil. And, if you enjoy a bit of acidic flavor, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice works wonderfully, too. Enjoy!
Risotto is actually rice, although some people assume it’s a small grained pasta. Risotto makes a wonderful, creamy, rich side to Italian entrees. Generally, it’s eaten with a meat or fish entree, because the risotto creates the perfect carbohydrate balance.
To make risotto at home, with a flavorful Italian flair, cook according to directions, but replace water with vegetable or chicken stock (a little white wine is also good). When it’s finished, stir in a generous portion of parmesan cheese. This is a blend that’s flavorful, creamy, and, above all, satisfying.
Most Italian restaurants serve vegetables with a unique twist. When in season, artichokes are always an incredible choice. If you want to try them at home, here’s an easy, but delicious Italian version.
Take fresh whole artichokes, and with kitchen shears, clip the ends of the top pointed leaves. Boil them In salted water, until you can easily pull a leaf from the artichoke base with little effort. Then drain the water, and in the same pot, pour a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil.
Add crushed garlic, and sea salt, allowing the garlic to sauté on the bottom of the hot pan. Then, remove from the heat, and add grated parmesan cheese. Place the lid on the pan and shake until the artichokes are completely coated. This is an incredible side dish your guests will surely remember.
Bruschetta is often served as an antipasto, or as an Italian side. When ordering from an Italian restaurant, there will typically be a chef inspired version of this delicious treat. Be adventurous: Bruschetta might include vegetables, meats or cheeses, or a combination of all three. The next time you want to impress your guests, try this version at home.
Take a quality rustic or artesian bread and cut it into ½ inch slices. Then, cut vine ripe tomatoes and place them in a bowl. Add coarse salt, olive oil, and a splash of quality balsamic vinegar. Place the mixture in the fridge to chill. Take a garlic clove and rub both sides of each bread slice. Then, drizzle the bread with olive oil, and grill until golden brown. Top with the tomato mixture and serve. Excellent!
If you’re in the mood for a great Italian side dish, or entree, head to Serafina in Miami. We’re located at 19565 Biscayne Blvd # 1944. Our authentic Italian menu is sure to exceed your expectations and satisfy your cravings!