The Italian Throwdown

I have not had an excuse to have a really big Italian meal in a couple of years. So when the chance came up I jumped at the chance. I have been playing with a chicken dish in my head for a couple of months so I thought that this was the perfect chance to try it out.

The meal started with a trifecta of buschette. Tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella, White bean with Ricotta Salata, and finally Sauted Pepper medley with sweet Gorgonzola and basil oil. The tomato and basil was some what of a disappointment, but I loved the other two.

Antipasti
Grilled Bruschetta with Grilled Red and Yellow Peppers, Gorgonzola and Basil Oil
Recipe courtesy Bobby Flay, 2007

Grilled Bruschetta with Grilled Red and Yellow Peppers, Gorgonzola and Basil OilBruschetta with White Beans, Sun-dried Tomatoes and Basil

Recipe courtesy Michael Chiarello

Chef’s Note: The flavor from cooked dried beans is delicious, but you can also use canned white beans here if you want to make this recipe and you don’t have time to cook the beans from scratch. Substitute 1 (15-ounce) can of white cannelloni beans, drained, with a bit of the bean liquid reserved.
For the beans:
3/4 cup cannelloni beans
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon salt For the bruschetta and topping:
1 small baguette, sliced into thick pieces
1 tablespoon thinly sliced garlic, plus 1 garlic clove, peeled, for coating bread
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes
8 to 10 basil leaves
1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried drained and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Lemon juice
Salt and fresh black pepper
2 ounces ricotta salata cheese, grated large