Cucina Italiana

I hosted book club last week for the first time since I moved into my new place! We had a great time chatting in my dining room crammed around my super small round table. Over the past year we have really stepped up our culinary game – growing from cheese and crackers to mild attempts to pair a dish or two to the book. Our last read, The Imperfectionists, took place in Rome so I decided to kick it up with a little Italian fare. The meatballs were tasty, and the suprise dish was a toothpick caprese salad.

I had made these meatballs before and thought they were really good. I made them mini bite sized this time and they were only ok. I don’t know if it was my memory, change in tastes, or doubling of the recipe, but they didn’t seem as amazing as they had before. They are turkey with celery and onion, which was a good start, but they could have used a little more punch – more herbs, more salt, something really special. I made moroccan inspired meatballs for book club last year and those were great, packed with mint and stronger flavors from lamb and pork, so maybe my expectations for  these were a little high. You wouldn’t think that meat balls are so hard to perfect, but it’s all about proportions and flavor profiles can be so varied. So while these were good, I’ll have to keep trying for a winning combination because they are great for parties and it really doesn’t take that long to roll 77 of them!

Now my mini capreses on the otherhand were great. SO simple, but they looked impressive and just took a couple steps. I used grape tomatoes and fresh mozarella. The fresh mozzarella makes all the difference, because it’s creamier and moister than the other kinds that are vacuume packed. Simply skewer the tomato and cheese, sprinkle with basil, and top with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. It’s as easy as that and as long as you use qualities ingredients, you can’t go wrong.

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