Want to create a memorable evening? Bring the glitz and glamour of the silver screen into your own home by hosting an elegant, Italian-themed dinner-and-a-movie party, complete with great food, fine wines and a stirring film.
Start with a favorite classic Italian film and use that as a springboard for the rest of your night. Add in thoughtfully chosen food, wine and décor for the full red-carpet treatment.
The recipes featured here are simple, but sophisticated. Grilled Polenta With Triple Mushroom Sauce features crisp, seared polenta wedges with a zesty tomato-mushroom topping. (And, best of all, it can be made ahead and finished on the grill at the last minute for an easy appetizer or side dish.) Tuscan Chicken With Garlic and Capers takes thinly-pounded chicken breasts, tosses them lightly in flour and seasonings and lightly sautés them. A savory sauce of white wine, garlic, capers, anchovies and a premium prepared pasta sauce, such as Classico, comes together quickly on the stovetop.
Want to guarantee an award-winning performance at your motion picture soiree?
Follow these simple planning tips:
—Pick a mood movie: Italian classics run the gamut from thrilling to romantic to comedic to dramatic. “Roman Holiday,” “The Big Night,” “Moonstruck,” “Cinema Paradiso” and “The Good, The Bad and the Ugly” are just a few options.
—Invite friends and family: Nothing says Italian like a big family meal. Fill the house with your favorite people and use the movie as a springboard for lively conversation.
—Select favorite recipes to complement the movie: Pick a family favorite, or try a recipe you’ve always wanted to make. With so many choices of delicious Italian foods, you can’t go wrong.
—Offer wine: Italians wouldn’t think of having a meal without a glass of wine. Consider having at least one red and one white wine available to guests. Here are some food-friendly wine choices:
Castello di Gabbiano Pinot Grigio
Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico
Castello di Gabbiano Chianti Classico Riserva
Castello di Gabbiano Alleanza
With a little planning and preparation, you’ll only have one thing left to do on movie night: Sit back, relax and let the accolades roll in. But, be prepared. Your guests will likely ask for an encore.
Host an Outdoor Movie Screening
Make your entire evening an alfresco experience by watching your Italian movie outside. Set a television up on the deck or rent a projection screen for the back yard so you can dine with the stars — under the stars!
If you want to go even more casual, set up a projector and hang a sheet up between trees or from a fence. Set out blankets or tablecloths on the lawn and enjoy an Italian dinner picnic style.
Tuscan Chicken With Garlic and Capers
Makes 4 servings
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded
to 1/2 inch thick
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup Gabbiano di Castello or other dry
2 tablespoons capers
2 anchovy fillets, finely chopped, optional
1 jar (26 ounces) Classico di Napoli Tomato
and Basil Pasta Sauce
Chopped fresh parsley, basil or oregano
Season chicken with salt and pepper and lightly toss in flour.
In large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cook until golden and no longer pink inside, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove chicken and set aside.
Add garlic and onion to saucepan. Cook until softened, about 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in wine, and cook until wine has nearly evaporated. Add capers, anchovy fillets, if using, and pasta sauce. Simmer 3 to 4 minutes. Return chicken to saucepan and heat through.
Top chicken with sauce and parsley or other herbs. Serve over mashed potatoes, steamed rice or cooked pasta, if desired.
Variation: Stir a few minced olives into sauce for an additional layer of flavor.
Grilled Polenta With Triple Mushroom Sauce
Makes 6 servings
4 cups water
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup butter, divided
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 jar (26 ounces) Classico di Toscana
Triple Mushroom Sauce
In medium saucepan, bring water and salt to a boil. Gradually stir in cornmeal and half the butter. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, 20 minutes. Mixture will become quite thick. Stir in remaining butter and cheese. Pour cooked polenta evenly into 8-inch square baking dish, lined with parchment paper. Cool completely, then chill until firm. Slice into 12 wedges.
Place polenta wedges on greased grill over medium heat. Cook on both sides, until heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. (The polenta wedges can be heated in a skillet instead of a grill, if desired.)
In the meantime, in large saucepan, heat pasta sauce. Serve polenta with sauce over top.
For more inspired Italian dishes, visit www.classico.com..