New Year’s Day Italian Feast

My family exploits every opportunity to enjoy an outrageously special meal, so it comes as no surprise that we used New Year’s Day as a tribute to my grandparents heritage.

We spent hours and hours on Sunday evening prepping and cooking for our feast, which unsurprisingly began and ended with a platter of cheese. Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of all of the goodies that we made, because frankly I was too busy eating them, but I’ll give a rundown of the menu for your reading pleasure.

To begin we put together a simple antipasto platter to nibble on as we cooked, it consisted of some of our favorite munchies: garlic-stuffed green olives, marinated artichoke hearts, homemade rosemary ciabatta (which my brother had slaved over the previous days), rosemary marcona almonds, genoa salami, and fontinella cheese. Unreal.

As we nibbled, we prepared the main courses of our feast: ricotta gnocchi and a family recipe for ‘Christmas Eve Shrimp’, which we didn’t get around to making until long after the intended day but enjoyed immensely nonetheless. This was the first time we made this family shrimp recipe, and WOW was it the best shrimp ever! I can’t give away the whole recipe, because it’s a family secret, but basically you cook raw un-shelled shrimp in a spiced tomato broth until the broth is reduced and the shrimp is cooked through. This method produces the most incredibly tender and succulent shrimp I have ever eaten. Ever. The texture was more similar to lobster than the shrimp I’m used to. Even if I had a picture, it wouldn’t do the dish justice.

The ricotta gnocchi was something my brother had been aching to make the whole holiday season and put a lot of care and attention into his homemade pasta dough. The result was well-worth the effort.

He created the dough for a very simple gnocchi (those are the best kind), then divided the dough into sections and rolled each out into long logs.

(my brother did the rolling)

When the log reached its desired length and width, he cut the dough into small ‘gnocchi-sized’ pieces.

Then we dressed these little dumplings in a simple tomato sauce with fresh basil and parmigiano.

(sorry the pic is a little fuzzy/dark)

The resulting gnocchi was light, pillowy and made for a wonderful sponge to soak up the tomato sauce and cheese.

We had a lot of fresh ricotta leftover from the gnocchi, so we decided to create some sort of dessert with it. When I say a LOT, I mean it, so we made lemon ricotta tarts with blackberry coulis  two ways. The first was in puff pastry shells and the second was a large tart with an amaretti cookie crust. I wish I had pics to share, but sadly do not. Use your imagination and believe me when I say, it was divine.

I mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth saying again. It’s a good rule of thumb when you want to have a truly decadent meal, to both begin and end the meal with cheese. 😉

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