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19 October 2020

3 Tempting Twists on Some Classic Italian Favorites

In America’s melting pot, international cuisine is plentiful. Contributions from Eastern culture like sushi, ramen, and lo mein fill our lunch hours and find their way to our dinner tables on a regular basis. We’ve practically named a day of the week after the taco, and often indulge in a margarita, a fajita, or a quesadilla to satisfy our cravings for Mexican food. Curries and kormas, gyros and kebabs, tandoori, and paprikash… all of these culinary contributions from the world’s cultures have helped to diversify our pallet. And boy, are we grateful!

But one nation’s cuisine is particularly beloved when it comes to its place in the American heart (and stomach). So much so that we may often confuse it as our own, having adapted and Americanized its traditional recipes to account for our football Sunday hankerings and our Friday family get-togethers.

Italian food, with its pizza, pasta and meatballs, chicken parmigiana, cannolis, cappuccinos and so much more has woven itself into the fabric of the American appetite unlike any of our other international neighbors’ cuisines. We love it. We crave it. We obsess over it. In an attempt to further endear Italian food to our hearts (as though we could possibly adore it more), here are three tempting twists on some classic dishes to reaffirm how much we wish it were ours.

Spicy Chicken Parmigiana

Fried chicken, tomato sauce and melted cheese? You had us at fried. But topped with a savory tomato sauce and ooey, gooey, melty parmesan? Now you’re the only thing we want to eat. Ever.

In a daring twist to this Italian classic, we tear a page from our Thai and Mexican cookbooks, substituting and adding to your classic tomato or marinara sauce for a spicier option:

  • Sriracha sauce: Believed to originate from Sri Racha, Thailand, this sweet-hot condiment has really had its comeuppance in the US, being added to everything from scrambled eggs to bloody marys. But who could have imagined what adding a few tablespoons of this magical elixir to your favorite tomato sauce could do for a chicken parm? It’s tangy, sweet spiciness is a measured blend of pureed chilies, garlic, and sugar, and is the perfect complement to a sweeter tomato sauce, giving your chicken, veal, and eggplant parmigiana a welcome, surprising zip. Need a little more? Feel free to drizzle a little extra Sriracha over the melted cheese.
  • Pastene’s Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies: This brilliant combination from Italian ingredient stalwart Pastene is a thicker, chunkier version of Mexican restaurant salsa. Substituted one-for-one with your recipe’s tomato sauce, this perfect balance of finely-diced Mexican jalapeños and sweet Italian tomatoes will lend some happy heat to an otherwise richer, sweeter dish. Want to take it a step further? Substitute melted parmesan cheese with a traditional Mexican cheese like cotija or Oaxaca for a south of the border take on this Italian classic.

Anchovy Bruschetta

You are probably well aware of what bruschetta is, and more likely than not, you’ve probably eaten your fair share. After all, this traditional Italian appetizer made up of grilled, garlic-rubbed Italian bread is often a staple of Italian restaurant menus. 

Typical toppings for bruschetta include diced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, and basil, but here’s a little twist you may have never considered that will help to spruce this pre-meal favorite up a bit.

Needless to say, we go to great lengths and take great pride in giving you only the finest ingredients. We wouldn’t want it any other way for our family, and nor should you for yours.

Just as Pietro Pastene knew that his pushcart could not sustain the growing volume and success of his business, we know that Pastene’s continued growth depends on our never-waning commitment to quality and a fast, easy and engaging shopping experience for our customers. And sometimes that means growing with the times. And grow we have!

Next time you’re making bruschetta at home – either for a dinner party, for your family, or to nosh on yourself – set it up the way you typically would with sliced Italian bread rubbed with garlic, drizzled with olive oil, then browned in the oven. 

In a blender or food processor, add some Pastene Tri Color Tomato Wedges, 6-8 sliced anchovy fillets, and some sun dried tomatoes (it’s okay if you get some of the oil in there, too). Whisk the ingredients around until they’re well combined and spread generously on top of your browned bread.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; “ANCHOVIES?!” Yes, anchovies. You may think they’ll lend an overly fishy flavor to your bruschetta, but much like in Caesar dressing, they’ll actually help to cream out and enrich the flavor of the added tomatoes without the heavy fish flavor (or smell) you might expect.

Top the spread with freshly-snipped basil leaves, fresh mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, a small pinch of chili flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and you’ll be wondering why you never thought to add anchovies before.

Now that we’ve given you a peek behind the curtain, why not try your own hand at creating a new twist on an Italian classic? Pastene offers fresh, Italian-style ingredients, giving you carte blanche to experiment to your heart’s content. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find your family’s next favorite.

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