A Thanksgiving Meal with an Italian Flair

Hello my dear friends!An Italian pie for Thanksgiving

I’ve been so busy with my new adventure (selling Home made Italian desserts at the local Farmers Market) that I’ve skipped a couple of weeks of recipes posting… MY APOLOGIES! But  if by the way  you would like to learn more about my booth at the Freight House Farmers Market in Davenport, take a look to this brief interview on WHBF-TV . I was so nervous, but I had the chance to talk about my beloved Italy, and our amazing food tradition! With the Winter Holidays approaching I’ve enriched my menu with more  “wintery and Christmassy” desserts, you should definitely check those out!

Now that you know why I’ve been “absent” (and maybe why It may happen again LOL), I would like to share with you and another article I wrote for the Quadcities Mom’s blog last we (the previous one was a “fall themed one“). All recipes are mine, and it’s   about adding an Italian touch to the Traditional Thanksgiving menu!!!! I hope you’ll enjoy the reading and maybe find some fun recipe to experiment!

“Even though “giving thanks” should be a moment of reflection that everyone should try to do at least once a year, this celebration is not observed in many other countries and is probably mostly seen as an American holiday. (Forgot about the origin of Thanksgiving? Click here to refresh your memory).

Italians don’t celebrate Thanksgiving but in approximately eight years that we’ve lived in Iowa, we’ve often been invited to Thanksgiving celebrations at dear friends’ houses, and to be honest, I’ve loved the atmosphere and preparation!  I have noticed though, that most of the hosts and guests at some point have admitted that turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pies weren’t exactly their favorite foods.    I am a huge supporter of traditions and celebrations, but why keep self-inflicting a Thanksgiving meal that nobody likes?

To find a solution, when we have celebrated Thanksgiving at home here in the Quad Cities, I’ve tried to follow the custom of turkey and mashed potatoes for the sake of my children, but I have also enriched this menu with an Italian touch. I was thinking that you may be interested in doing the same by adding a few easy Italian dishes to the traditional menu.

It’s well known that those turkeys take hours to roast.  So, as an easy start (since we probably won’t be eating until late afternoon) why don’t we treat ourselves with some “Italian appetizers“? Here are some of my favorites:

AN ITALIAN COCKTAILSpritz the most popular Italian appetazier cocktail

SPRITZ:  This is one of the most popular cocktails in Italy.  Only three liquid ingredients to warm up the atmosphere and possibly make your mother-in-law sound more pleasant . A Spritz is a perfectly seasonable orange cocktail.  It is enjoyable and fairly light, even for those who are not much into booze. It will make the beginning of your Thanksgiving meal very fancy!

ITALIAN  STARTERS  White Onion, bacon and blue cheese savory Italian pie

WHITE ONION, BACON AND BLUE CHEESE SAVORY PIE: Such a long name for an extra easy appetizer. Everybody will love it (just remember not to tell the kids that there are onions in there!). This tart takes 10 minutes for preparation and 20 in the oven. You can prepare it a few hours in advance and pop it into the oven whenever your guests start walking around the kitchen to ask how long until dinner will be served! I understand that to prepare this tart you may need a second oven (since the first one will be busy with the big bird), but if you don’t own one, don’t worry, there is another appetizer you may want to try…. Asiago cheese cubes appetizer

ASIAGO CHEESE CUBES: Your guests will just die for this finger food. Small Asiago cheese cubes, crunchy on the outside and melted inside-so delicious! This Italian classic  for your Thanksgiving meal may require a little more work in the kitchen, but believe me, it’s totally worth it.  As a bonus, it will fill those impatient bellies for a decent amount of time!


I’ll skip offering options for the main course but I want to suggest a light soup that you may want to serve while the turkey rests on the kitchen counter: Orange creamy butternut squash soup

ORANGE CREAMY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP: Many fancy restaurants, before their important dinner parties serve light soups or “consomme“.  Especially in those years that Thanksgiving Day is deadly cold, I am sure your family would be delighted by a warm, orange, velvety soup to enjoy before the classic Thanksgiving meal. This soup is even better if prepared a little ahead of time and kept refrigerated, so you will have it ready to go on the busy day.

After the legendary turkey with gravy, let’s jump straight to my favorite course and my area of expertise…


Here are a couple of options that you may want to consider to break up the monotony of the classic Thanksgiving pies.ricotta, almonds and amaretti cookies tart

RICOTTA, ALMOND and AMARETTI COOKIE TART: A not too sweet and slightly aromatic tart that could perfectly suit a Thanksgiving buffet.  You may want to consider this pie because it’s absolutely easy to prepare with very little “hands-on” time, and, if prepared a day ahead it tastes even better. chocolate chips and ricotta tart

CHOCOLATE AND RICOTTA TART:  If you are afraid your guests may dislike an almond-based dessert, who doesn’t like chocolate chips? This chocolate and ricotta tart is creamy, velvety and absolutely loved by children. It can be prepared a few days in advance and it’s really super easy to make.

Maybe preparing ALL of these alternative dishes for your Thanksgiving meal in such a busy-and many times stressful-holiday season sounds a little overwhelming. But if you like the idea of spicing up your planned menu even with just one new dish, I am sure it will be beneficial for the mood, the atmosphere and everyone’s appetites!

ricotta, amonds and amaretti tart

I am curious to know if you already have a dish that stands out from the classic ones on Thanksgiving? I am always excited to try new recipes and ideas!”.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

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Ricotta, almonds and amaretti tart: surprise your family with a new Thanksgiving dessert!

An Italian pie for Thanksgiving

One of the many things that surprised me the most when we moved to USA was (and still does!) noticing how much Americans generally loves creamy, super sweet, frosted colorful cakes and cupcakes, simple sponge cakes’ bases literally buried in butter cream, frosting, icing, or whatever… the only exception of this rule I found living here is on Thanksgiving day: the most typical pies served on this occasion are usually “dry”, not too much sweet and very aromatic. Of course, I am talking about pecan pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie, sweet potato pie. Today I would like to share with you a new pie recipe that is dry, not too much sweet and slightly aromatic that could suit a Thanksgiving meal with an Italian touch! Also, on a practical side, Thanksgiving is always an holiday where you want to have everything perfect, and possibly prepared in advance to be able to enjoy your family, and this tart suites perfectly this necessities since it is absolutely easy to be prepared, it takes very little “hands-on” time, and if prepared a day ahead it tastes even better!

If you have been following me you should know that Amaretti are common Italian pastry biscuits, made mainly with almonds, egg whites and sugar. I’ve already posted a few phenomenal dessert recipes with Amaretti (Amaretti & Rum tiramisu, Dame’s kisses, Meringata), and if you have liked their special taste, you have to try even this tart! Almonds and Amaretti  taste very good combined with ricotta cheese and the crumble base is always a win/win: super easy to make and delicious! Concluding, if you are wondering where you could find Amaretti (besides on the web) I would say that they always keep a few packages (especially close to the winter festivities) at Tuesday Morning, at TJ MAX, at Schnucks. Their expiration date is usually pretty far away so when I find them I usually buy a good bunch!

INGREDIENTS for a 10″ springform round pan

For the pastry

1 stick unsalted butter (100 gr.)

1/2 cup sugar (100 gr.)

1 egg

2 tsp. almond extract

2 cups all purpose flour (300 gr.)

2 tps. baking powder (16 gr.)

For the filling

7 oz. (1 package) Amaretti cookies (200 gr.)

15 oz. ricotta (whole or part skim) – (425 gr.)

1 egg

1/3 unsalted almond (50 gr.)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (100 gr.)


In a food processor mix together ricotta cheese, Amaretti, egg, almonds and sugar. You will obtain a velvety and dense cream (absolutely good to be eaten raw!).

In a bowl, combine butter, almond extract and sugar first until they are very well mixed. Then the egg and keep stirring. Add the flour sifted with the baking powder. Stir until the egg, butter and sugar have been absorbed into the flour and  the mixture has a crumble texture.

The mixture will be lumpy and that is right and normal. To arrange the tart, butter the springpan and sprinkle with flour. Spoon 3/4 of the crumby dough mixture into the prepard pan and keep the rest to decorate the top of the pie. Spread the dough evenly (you can even use your fingers) completely covering the bottom of the pan. Be sure to press the dough up the sides of the pan at least 1/4 inch to contain the ricotta cream while it bakes and to apply some holes to the dough by using the tips of a fork.

Pour the ricotta cream on top of the firmed crust and crumble the remaining dough on top of the cream. If you like, you can decorate the sides of the cake, again using the tips of a fork.  Bake at 365 F. (180 C.) for about 40-45 minutes. It will be done when the crust gets golden and the ricotta cream changes color.

Let the cake cool off before taking it out of the spring pan to avoid breaking it and wait to serve at room temperature. 


TIPS: – I don’t know if it has ever happened to you but occasionally I forget a package of ricotta cheese in the very back of the refrigerator, only to find it once it’s already expired. If the ricotta hasn’t really got bad yet, but you don’t trust eating it raw, make this tart and you will avoid the food-waste guilt and you’ll be guaranteed a delicious outcome! 

– If you want to make a less fat tart, you can use part skim ricotta cheese: you won’t even notice the difference!

It would really make me feel proud knowing you intend to try this cake as your Thanksgiving dessert, but even if you’ll not, or if you decide to try it on a different day it doesn’t matter! What matters it that you’ll like it! And if you do, please 

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Much thanks,