2022 Festival Cucina Recipes

man with white apron and black hat holding a small octopus

Eggplant Bruschetta (Presented by Denise Roncone)  

  • 1 T Coriander seeds (you may substitute Caraway seeds if necessary)
  • 1 T Kosher salt 
  • 1 T Oregano 
  • 1 C white vinegar 
  • 2 C water 

Bring to a boil and add 3 Fairytale or 1 Nadia eggplant chunked in pieces.  Let eggplant boil for around 5 minutes. Drain eggplant until almost dry and blot with a paper towel if necessary. 

While the eggplant is draining, prepare the following ingredients to layer into your jars. 

  • 1 medium onion diced 
  • 3 cloves of fresh garlic sliced 
  • Capers (preserved in salt. If you are watching your sodium intake, you  can rinse them) 
  • Fresh basil 
  • Fresh parsley 
  • Sliced Kalamata olives 
  • 1 Chili pepper or a Red Banana hot pepper finely chopped 

In a prepared pint jar, layer the eggplant with the above fresh ingredients.  Cover with a good grade of olive oil. Make sure that all air bubbles are released, and all ingredients are covered. Refrigerate for at least 10 days to marry the flavors. 

Bring a jar to room temperature and serve a spoonful on prepared  bruschetta bread and serve with a small slice of Asiago or Fontanilla cheese (and, of course, a glass of red wine.)

Baccala Salad (Presented by Robert Germano)  

  • 1 lb. salt cod, soaked overnight or more, then drained 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 cup whole cured black olives
  • 1 celery stalk, diced
  • 1-2 vinegar peppers, diced
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Place pre-soaked salt cod fish in a medium saucepan. Add water to cover cod fish. Bring the water to a boil and simmer until the fish flakes easily. Remove the cod and drain. 

Mix the garlic, olives, celery, and vinegar peppers in a bowl with black pepper, red pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil. 

Break the cod into pieces and toss with the garlic-olive mixture. Refrigerate and let sit for at least one-half of an hour before serving.

Zeppole with Anchovy (Presented by Elizabeth Opyoke) 

  • 1 1/2 cups flour 
  • 1 package yeast 
  • Pinch salt 
  • 3/4 cup water 
  • 16 anchovy fillets 
  • 6 cups oil 

Mix flour, yeast, salt, and water. Let it rest in the refrigerator. After the dough rests for about 2 hours, divide the dough into 16 pieces. Place an anchovy in your palm. Fold the dough over and make a ball. 

In a heavy pot, heat oil. Add anchovy balls to hot oil and cook until golden brown.


Zuppa Pavese (Presented by MK Ohlinger)  

  • 5 cups of chicken broth
  • 3 ½ tablespoons of butter
  • 4 slices of Italian bread
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Parmesan Cheese

Bring the broth to a boil. In the meantime, heat the butter well and braise the bread slices (having removed the crusts and cut them in 2) until golden. 

Put 2 halves at the bottom of each serving bowl, sprinkle with parmesan on top and carefully break an egg over each so that the egg yolk doesn’t run. 

Season with salt and black pepper, then pour on boiling broth. Serve the soup right away.

Stuffed Calamari in Tomato Sauce (Presented by Mike Biafore)  

  • 600 g (1.3 lb) of Calamari 
  • 120 ml ( 1/2 cup) of dry white wine 
  • 2 cloves of garlic 
  • 30 g (2 tablespoons) of chopped parsley 
  • 100 g (3,5 oz = 1/2 cup) of bread Italian Bread Crumbs 1 whole egg 
  • 50 g (1,8 oz = 1/2 cup) of grated Parmigiano cheese 6/8 tablespoons of Extra virgin olive oil. 
  • fine salt to taste 

Once you have cleaned the calamari and separated the tentacles from the body, chop the tentacles into very small pieces on a cutting board. 

Cook the small pieces of tentacles in a frying pan over medium heat with 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, one clove of garlic, and a pinch of salt to taste. Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 60 ml (1/4 cup) of white wine and let it evaporate over high heat, cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Remove the garlic from the frying pan. Chop the garlic and 1 tablespoon of parsley together, then add them to the bread crumbs. Mix and add these ingredients to the squid in the frying pan. 

Now add the egg and Parmigiano cheese.

Tuna Meatballs and Pasta (Presented by Shannon Colaianni Tinnell and Lawrence Colaianni)  

  • 3/4 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • olive oil
  • 1 small white onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Romano cheese
  • 3 large cans of high-quality white tuna in oil
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley

Drain the oil from the tuna; reserve the oil for the tomato sauce. 

Process the onions, garlic, pine nuts, parsley, egg, salt, and pepper in a food processor. 

In a large bowl, with your hands, break up the tuna. Add the contents from  the food processor. Mix all the ingredients together. 

Moisten your hands and form the mixture into balls. Dredge in extra bread crumbs and shake off excess. 

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a heavy skillet, and fry the tuna balls in small batches. Fry until browned, about 4-6 minutes. Add to the hot tomato sauce  and simmer on low for at least 30 min. Serve over pasta. 

For the Sauce: 

  • 3 cans of tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup olive oil or reserved tuna oil
  • 1 small onion chopped in a food processor
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped in a food processor, the onion and garlic can be done together
  • 1 carrot chopped in a food processor
  • ½ teaspoon each of salt, pepper, and hot pepper flakes
  • Fresh basil
  • Grated parmesan

In a saucepan, sauté the garlic, onion, and carrots until tender. Add the  chopped parsley, hot pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Add tomato sauce and simmer. Add the fresh basil and cheese right before serving.

Cafe Diablo (Presented By Scott Frederick)  

  • 2 oz of Cognac  
  • oz Cointreau  
  • 1 oz Curacao  
  • cups of coffee 
  • sticks of cinnamon  
  • 8 cloves  
  • 6 coffee beans  

Heat all the ingredients in a pan. Pour in a cup and top with coffee. Enjoy.

Italian Sour Cream Nutroll Cookies (Presented by Denise Roncone) 

{Made by my Grandmother Italia (Edith) Meffe Gibbles every Christmas} (This original recipe may be cut in half) 

Bake 325° 

  • 8 C flour (or more for consistency) 
  • 1 lb Oleo or butter melted and cooled 
  • 1 C sugar 
  • 1 t salt 
  • 5-6 large egg yolks (reserve whites for filling) 
  • 1 – 2 oz. cake of yeast or three packets of dry yeast
  • 1 pint of sour cream 
  • 3 T vanilla 
  • 1 t orange rind finely grated 
  • ½ t lemon extract 

Mix flour & dry yeast. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the eggs on medium speed until combined, about 1 minute. Add the sour cream, melted butter, sugar, vanilla, salt, and softened yeast. Mix on medium speed until smooth and well-combined, about 2 to 3 minutes.  

Switch to the dough hook, reduce the mixer speed to low, and add the flour and yeast mixture a little at a time until The dough does not feel sticky but is still soft and supple. Continue kneading until the dough does not stick to the sides of the bowl. Make 14 balls. Wrap each ball in cellophane and chill overnight. 


  • 2 lbs. Walnuts ground 
  • 3 ½ C confectioners’ sugar (1 lb. bag) 
  • 5-6 egg whites (reserved) 

Mix the above 3 ingredients and then pour 1 stick of melted (and cooled)  butter. 

Assembly: Let dough soften at room temperature. Roll out dough and spread filling. Cut into triangles.

What are your favorite Italian-inspired dishes? 

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