Italy: Cucina ispirata a Mario

The reason Martin picked Italy is because of Mario.  So when it came to making dinner together I went a little heavy on the Nintendo theme… 

Mario and Luigi’s favorite meal is “pasta”, the Italian flag is red, white and green, and a famous treat in Italy is Gelato.  So with Mario, Luigi and Princess Peach in mind we made…

Mario Pasta, Luigi Salad, and Peach Gelato!

For some bizarre reason I decided to make our pasta sauce from scratch- it is a recipe I have used several times before but preparing it with a 3 year old helper was on a new level.  You can find that recipe here. If you do not LOVE Worcestershire sauce I recommend only using 1/2 a tablespoon or possibly less.  I’ve made this sauce for a few years now and I love it- sometimes I even mince a carrot and add it to the onions- it makes the sauce sweet and gets another vegetable in there! Yum!

Luigi Salad is based off of the Italian flag and Italian ingredients- zucchini, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Every thing is raw and I thought it might be odd having raw zucchini but it isn’t- it’s delicious! My favorite forkful was a bite of zucchini with mozzarella. The crunch of the zucchini offset by the smooth creamy cheese- sooo good!

Finally Peach Gelato for dessert.  I’ll be honest, I found a great recipe and it had crazy high reviews and I was pretty stoked about making this one.  I have never made ice cream with eggs, just heavy cream and milk… this one used egg yolks, scalded milk and a blender…. well my milk was too hot and it scrambled my eggs. 

Undeterred I plowed on, but sadly my base did not thicken when I put it back on the stove.  And then it never fully became ice cream in the ice cream machine, it was just too thin.  The flavor is delicious- fresh peaches, how can you go wrong?! But the texture is all wrong…. oh well, I’ll try again another day. 

It’s interesting how a mistake can sometimes inspire yummy things. 

The gelato recipe called for 4 egg yolks, so I had 4 egg whites left over and no use for them.  Well I have a hard time throwing things away so I found a recipe for Italian meringue cookies with chocolate mixed in.  

I was like- this will redeem by gelato disaster! I made the cookies and adjusted since I didn’t have the type of chocolate that it called for, put them in the oven and 5 minutes in I smelled burning so I turned the oven off and hoped the residual heat would be enough. 

Well they worked! More than that they were a massive hit!

So I dubbed them ‘Mistake Cookies’ or since it’s Italian week ‘Cookie di Errore” (thanks google translate).   

These bizarre meringue cookies were delicious! 

So, I learned a little over a year ago that making bread with Martin was a lot of fun! He could help with every stage, kneading is just like playing with play dough, and with all the rising times it would easily fill our day.

So, we made focaccia- and I have got to tell you, out of all the different types of bread we have made, this one is perfect for little fingers!

If you’ve ever been to an Italian restaurant and received some flat dimpled bread that you dip into olive oil- that is focaccia! I used the Williams Sonoma recipe mainly because I own one of their cookbooks with this recipe in it.

…If I can, I always prefer to use physical cookbooks vs digital- I love the feel and the way well loved pages get messy…

The other reason I used this particular recipe is because it calls for All Purpose flour not bread flour like most recipes and I didn’t have any bread flour so AP it was!

Martin loved sticking his fingers in the dough to make the dimples and adding the sea salt. This boy LOVES salt, like licks it off his fingers, salt goes on everything loves salt. This is one we will be making again soon!

Luigi Salad

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 1 cup mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grape tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut the zucchinis into 1/2 inch coins then quarter the coins.
  2. Cut the grape tomatoes in half
  3. Cut the mozzarella into bite size pieces
  4. Add the vinegar and olive oil and toss
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste, toss

Cookies di Errore

  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 1/4 cup dark semi sweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped
  1. Place the egg whites and sugar over a double boiler and with an electric whisk beat the eggs over the heat till light and fluffy (roughly 10 minutes)
  2. Remove from the heat and continue to mix on medium speed for another 7 or so minutes or until shiny
  3. Fold in flour, vanilla and chocolate.
  4. Using a small ice cream scoop, scoop the mixture onto parchment lined cookie sheets.
  5. Bake at 350 for 5 minutes, then turn off the oven (seriously! turn it off) and leave the cookies in for another 15 minutes (DO NOT OPEN YOUR OVEN EARLY!)
  6. Remove cookies to cooling rack after letting them sit for 5 minutes out of the oven

Photo by TheUknownPhotographer on

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