Earlier this week, I returned home from spending some time in Europe. The majority of my travel was in Italy where I visited the cities of Venice, Florence, Orvieto, Verona, Pisa and Rome. I find myself missing Italy already, but now that I am home I’m eager to start recreating some of the wonderful foods I ate while I was there.
Lunch in Florence | Gnocchi in Red Sauce with Ricotta Clouds
I most certainly ate my fill of pasta, pizza, gelato and cannoli while in Italy. One afternoon in Florence, for lunch I had the most delicious gnocchi in red sauce with ricotta clouds. I knew immediately that I’d be making it at home. I’m excited to partner with Alessi Foods to recreate and share this dish with you, along with some other foods and highlights from my time in Florence.
It was a dark and rainy day in Florence, but that didn’t keep me from getting out to enjoy the food and culture of this beautiful city. Of all the cities I visited in Italy, it is Florence I am most eater to return to.
Along the Arno River in Florence
Visiting Italy was such an incredible experience for a history buff and foodie like me. The city of Florence is rich with history and art. Florence’s breathtaking paintings, sculptures, and architecture will have you in awe.
In Florence you’ll see the works of Michaelangelo, Botticelli, Gioto, da Vinci, Donatello and many more. Beautiful frescoes were painted onto buildings and sculptures adorned the entire city.
David next to Hercules and Cacus on Display in Piazza della Signoria
All throughout Italy, I ate so much wonderful food and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunities for outdoor dining whenever weather permitted. One thing that completely caught me off guard at dinner is that Italians always begin with a first course of pasta. A stark change for this girl who almost always begins her meal with a salad. After the first couple of times beginning dinner with pasta, I decided I could totally get used to it.
Outdoor dining in Italy
Pizza in Italy is amazing. I could eat it every day for the rest of my life and be perfectly satisfied. It wasn’t all pizza though. For lunch I enjoyed some wonderful salads, such as caprese salad which is simply made of buffalo mozzarella, tomatoes and basil and maybe served along a small bed of salad greens. Dinner salads were more simple, usually just some greens tossed with olive oil and a little salt.
And then there’s bread. Wonderful Italian bread brushed with a little olive oil. I certainly enjoyed the bread while I was there. I also drank an insane amount of cafe latte while I was there. I tried espresso while in Venice, but it was cafe latte that stole my heart.
Cafe Lattes and Dessert at Gilli in Florence
Just a day before leaving for Europe, I got a wonderful package from Alessi Foods filled with all the staples of a good Italian meal like pasta, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, red sauce, soups, bread sticks and much more. The timing of this package couldn’t have been more perfect. It got me so excited for my upcoming travels and eager to get home to recreate some of the wonderful foods I would eat surely in Italy.
Alessi Foods offers customers authentic Italian Products, imported from Italy and produced by an Italian (Sicilian) family. All of their products are inspired by their family’s Sicilian recipes. Sadly this trip didn’t take me to Sicily, where the Alessi family is from, but now I have another reason to head back to Italy. Antonino Alessi and his family immigrated from their native Sicily to Tampa, Florida. Did you know that I was born and raised in Tampa? Anyways, I’m a huge fan of Alessi products and am excited to share how I used them to make my own authentic Italian meal.
There are so many dishes that inspired me throughout Italy. So many of them I plan to make, but here’s a look at the first meal I prepared after returning home.
Italian Bread with Olive Oil
I may never put butter on bread again. This Alessi Extra Virgin Olive Oil takes me right back to Italy. Every restaurant I dined at in Italy served fresh Italian bread with the finest Olive Oil. Bread is my weakness and I can’t get enough of Italian bread with olive oil and Alessi Dipping Spices.
I could eat a caprese salad every day of my life and die happy. Some mozzarella, tomatoes, fresh basil, and Alessi’s Reduced Balsamic or Balsamic Vinegar are all you need to make this satisfying dish. I like to serve mine alongside a bed of greens tossed in Alessi Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a pinch of salt, much like I had in Italy.
Typically, I drizzle some balsamic vinegar over my salad, but many of the restaurants I dined at in Italy provided a reduced balsamic on the table. It’s my new favorite thing! Alessi Balsamic Reduction is fantastic on salad, but also on meats like chicken and steak. I can’t get enough of it.
As much as I love gnocchi, I can’t see myself ever making the little potato dumplings from scratch. Thank goodness Alessi makes gnocchi that rivals the tender dumplings I ate in Florence.
Before going on this trip, I had always eaten my gnocchi with a little garlic and olive oil or a cream sauce. I was so intrigued when I saw the gnocchi with red sauce on the menu in Florence. The little clouds of ricotta make this a heavenly dish, and one I am sure to enjoy again and again.
Gnocchi in Red Sauce with Ricotta Clouds
1 (16 oz.) package Alessi Potato Gnocchi, prepared according to package directions
1/2 cup Alessi All Natural Marinara Sauce, heated
1/2 cup ricotta cheese
fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Preparation: Simply prepare the gnocchi according to package directions. Stir in red sauce. Plate and top with dollops of ricotta and garnish with a couple of fresh basil leaves.
Don’t you love how simple this recipe is? One thing I noticed over and over again about the food in Italy, is that meals are prepared simply with few but fresh and high quality ingredients.
It’s been so much fun this week, recreating some of the foods from my travels in Italy. I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing this culinary journey with me and will try this gnocchi dish at home. Alessi products can be found at your local grocery store and online.
Gnocchi in Red Sauce with Ricotta Clouds
Gnocchi in red sauce with ricotta clouds and other Italian dishes inspired by travels to Italy.
1 (16 oz.) package Alessi Potato Gnocchi, prepared according to package directions 1/2 cup Alessi All Natural Marinara Sauce, heated 1/2 cup ricotta cheese fresh basil leaves, for garnish
Simply prepare the gnocchi according to package directions. Stir in red sauce. Plate and top with dollops of ricotta and garnish with a couple of fresh basil leaves.