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Master the Art of Italian Comfort Cuisine

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(Family Features) Cool, crisp days call for comfort foods, like the classic flavors of traditional Italian cooking. Whether you’re Italian by heritage or simply by heart, learning the art of Italian cuisine may be easier than you may think.

Perfect your pasta game. Limp, mushy, overcooked pasta can ruin an otherwise delicious Italian dish. Aim for al dente pasta, which is soft but still firm. It’s important to note variables like the type of pasta, size of your pot and amount of water can all affect cooking time. Treat the package instructions as a guide and start taste testing 1-2 minutes before you expect it to be done.

Be choosy about your ingredients. Many of the best Italian dishes are incredibly simple, so it’s important to select quality ingredients that allow the flavors to really stand out. Made in Italy, Bertolli d’Italia sauces are available in premium red and white varieties to elevate the at-home culinary experience and bring the authentic and delicious flavors of Italy to your table. Every jar reflects more than 150 years of authentic Italian culinary tradition using high-quality ingredients like tomatoes vine-ripened under the Italian sun, finely aged Italian cheeses, fresh cream and Mediterranean olive oil.

Give seasonings time to simmer. Great things come to those who wait. That’s why the best Italian chefs sample their sauces along the way, adding and adjusting until the taste is just right. Then, they allow the ingredients to simmer together to create a perfectly balanced harmony of flavors.

Experiment with proteins and veggies. For many Italian recipes, you can create an entirely new dish by adding or swapping the protein and adding fresh produce. Try introducing juicy strips of grilled chicken and fresh, steamed broccoli to an alfredo pasta like this Cavatelli with Cacio e Pepe Sauce. Or, if you’re a seafood lover, reimagine this Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Chicken by swapping in a mild white fish like halibut, cod or snapper.

Get cozy in your kitchen this fall with more comforting recipes at Bertolli.com.

Cavatelli with Cacio e Pepe Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Servings: 4

  • Salt, to taste
  • 1          box dry Cavatelli pasta
  • 1          jar (16.9 ounces) Bertolli d’Italia Cacio e Pepe Sauce
  • 1          cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Bring large pot of cold water to boil. Salt water heavily.
  2. Cook dry pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Strain pasta, reserving pasta water.
  3. In large saucepan over low heat, warm pasta sauce 3-5 minutes. Add 1-2 tablespoons pasta water.
  4. Transfer cooked pasta to saucepan.
  5. Stir and toss pasta approximately 30 seconds over medium heat to integrate it with sauce. Add pasta water as needed for creamier texture.
  6. Plate pasta and top with finely grated Pecorino Romano and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Chicken

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 28 minutes
Servings: 6

  • 1/3       cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3          tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus additional, for garnish
  • 3          cloves garlic, minced
  • 2          teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2       teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2       teaspoon dried oregano
  • 6          thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1          large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1          jar (24.7 ounces) Bertolli d’Italia Marinara Sauce
  • 2          cups multi-colored grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2          stems cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 1/2       cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 2          tablespoons balsamic glaze
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. In small bowl, whisk olive oil, basil, garlic, salt, pepper and oregano until combined. Combine 2 tablespoons oil mixture and chicken in resealable plastic bag. Let stand 5-10 minutes at room temperature to marinate.
  3. In medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons oil mixture over medium heat. Add onions; cook 3-4 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Stir in marinara sauce. Pour mixture into lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken breasts in dish, overlapping if necessary. Top with grape tomatoes and cherry tomato stems. Spoon remaining oil mixture over tomatoes.
  4. Bake, covered, 25 minutes, or until chicken is done (165 F) and tomatoes start to burst. Sprinkle with Parmesan, drizzle with balsamic glaze and garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.