Funny thing, semantics.
When Gina read the title of this blog post she raised a valid point. When she thinks of baking recipes, her mind immediately goes to desserts.
For me, on the other hand––my first language being Italian––baking is any dish cooked in the oven, however sweet or savory it may be. That’s why the first thing Gina associates with baking is cake, while the first thing I associate with baking is lasagna. And bread.
A hot oven and a sheet pan. Let’s start with these two simple elements. They are common to any baked specialty.
Baking can do more than just procure delicious comfort food. According to a large number of sources in both the culinary and medical worlds in fact, baking is an effective kitchen therapy to ease depression and anxiety. The meditative aspect of baking is clear: weighing out butter and sugar, whisking eggs, and kneading clear the mind, occupying all your attention. All this has a calming, mindful effect. But one of the best things about baking is that it brings happiness and delectable aromas into the household. Plus if you give away your creations to friends and neighbors you make other people feel happy, too.
A few tips before we start: remember to line your pan with a baking mat or parchment paper to prevent food from sticking. If you’re baking something with a lot of volume, like a savory pie for example, consider a springform pan with a removable base. Choose steel, iron and aluminum baking pans for general baking, and instead opt for copper for recipes that require stronger heat conduction: think farinata, or pizza.
Ready to turn on your oven? Here are our favorite baking recipes, sweet and savory.
As I mentioned in the opening, if I think of a baked dish I immediately think lasagna. The mother of all Italian baked pasta dishes. Click on the link for the whole story behind this iconic preparation, plus an alternate recipe to the classic Bolognese version: Pesto Lasagna.
Reusing leftovers is very Italian, the best way to employ day-old pasta is baking it! Here are my failsafe leftover pasta recipes, including pasticcio di tagliatelle.
During a fun trip to Puglia I learned how to make Tiella Riso Patate e Cozze, a layered casserole of rice, mussels and potatoes.
Gathering baked dishes means listing a long line of pizzas and focaccias. Here’s a seasonal pizza recipe and a step-by-step focaccia from scratch tutorial. We also have a cauliflower pizza recipe for our vegan/gluten-free readers.
Another baked favorite in Italy is Torta Rustica, a savory pie. Actually if you want to learn how to make torta rustica, we can arrange a special baking class with one of our experts.
If you love cooking Italian food, then you’ve probably made eggplant parmigiana once in your life. If on the contrary you’ve not, check out our Parmigiana di Melanzane recipe!
Speaking of parmigiana, have you ever tried Sicilian swordfish parmigiana? Here’s the recipe for you.
Another Sicilian recipe that’s not as well-known is Sciusceddu, a fantastic baked casserole of meatballs poached in broth and baked with a topping of whipped egg and ricotta cheese.
In the summer, when heirloom tomatoes are plump and at their peak, Italians stuff them with rice and bake them on a bed of potato wedges. Catch the recipe for Pomodori al Riso.
Fish involtini are the easiest mid-week lunch prep, especially today, since Tuesdays are the best day for fish and seafood in Italian markets.
In the sweet department, we loved making this spiced and love-filled Pumpkin Bread.
Gluten-free Torta Caprese uses almond flour, chocolate and love.
For your dunking pleasure, we recommend baking these delicious Chocolate Almond Cantucci.
We talked about the rivarly between Panettone and Pandoro, but did you know that for the Fat Tuesday feast at the end of Carnevale, Neapolitans bake a special flat cake made with semolina and ricotta? Here’s is Gina’s Migliaccio recipe.
Another Neapolitan tradition for Carnevale is baking a monumental lasagna that incorporates ricotta instead of béchamel, small meatballs and cubed pork (prosciutto or salame, depending on the household).
Yesterday I stuffed very ripe sweet peppers (I know, not seasonal!) with some ground veal, a little Italian sausage, stale bread soaked in milk, grated parmigiano & pecorino, garlic, oregano and 2 eggs. I then baked the stuffed peppers in the oven, topped with a breadcrumb and parmigiano crust.
The house still smells wonderful, and we have delicious leftovers. Win win.
What are you baking this week?