Foolproof Italian Dinner Party Menu
October is a magical month for produce, when the last of summer’s tomatoes sit next to fall’s new crop of chicories, brassicas, and the first apples of the season. It’s also the first month when the crisp air has us reaching for warming, comforting dishes rather than light, lean salads. To celebrate this special time of year, we put together a foolproof Italian dinner party menu that we’d happily eat every Sunday this fall. Some of the recipes take time (sausage ragu gets better as it simmers, and focaccia, though dead-easy to make, needs a couple of hours to rise properly), but we promise none of them are difficult. So this weekend, set aside a few hours for stress-free cooking and rave reviews, especially if you serve this affogato for dessert.
We love the bitter greens that start popping up in farmers markets this time of year, and this bright, punchy vinaigrette complements them perfectly. Our go-to green for this is escarole, but if you can’t find it, a mix of endive, arugula, and radicchio is delicious, too.
Let’s be honest, anything involving burrata is gonna be good, but this dish – which combines the creamy cheese with blistered cherry tomatoes, grilled focaccia, and a drizzle of syrupy aged balsamic vinegar – is pretty exceptional. If you don’t have time to make the focaccia, buy some.
For anyone intimidated by the idea of making your own bread, this focaccia recipe is a perfect place to start. It’s easy to make, comes together in just a few hours, and is still incredibly impressive. Use any leftovers for sandwiches or to make incredible croutons for salads. If your kitchen is cold, let the dough rest above or next to the warm oven.
Photographer: Ryan Robert Miller
Food Stylist: Caroline Hwang