Saturday, August 1, 2009

R2R: A little summer taste of Italy!

I had the honor of hosting this month's Recipes to Rival cooking challenge. I wanted to use a couple of the recipes I have acquired while living in Italy! The bruschetta recipe was shared with me by a dear friend who owns a restaurant in Naples. The limoncello recipe is from my Italian neighbor! I hope that you will give them a try... you will have a little summer taste of Italy!

On the menu: a delicious and simple antipasta (appetizer), Bruschetta and a digestivo (after-dinner drink),Limoncello.

Bruschetta, having its origination in Italy, is served as an antipasta. It is one of the simplest and easiest things to make and will gratify your taste buds. It is one of my most loved recipes and it is greatly enjoyed when paired with red wine. In Italian, Bruschetta is pronounced ‘brusketta’, where ‘bruscare’ means ‘to roast over coals’. The trick is to roast or grill the bread... NOT bake it as we do in America. Once you have tried this recipe you will have a hard time ordering it at a restaurant!

(4 servings)

4 slices Rustic Bread
2 cups chopped Roma Tomatoes
1 clove Garlic
4 to 8 leaves Basil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt

-Heat grill or grill pan to medium high heat
-Slice THICK pieces of bread
-Place bread on grill until each side has a nice golden color

-Rub garlic on top side of each bread piece
-Pile tomatoes on
-sprinkle one big pinch of salt per piece on top of the tomatoes
-generously drizzle oilve oil on top of tomatoes (about 2 to 3 tablespoons per piece)
-add basil to the top

Limoncello is an Italian lemon liqueur that originated in Southern Italy around the Bay of Naples. The liqueur derives its flavor from the peels, rather than the juice of the fruit, resulting in a pleasant, sweet, lemony taste. I tastes so good when chilled and served in the summer months. It is wonderful as a palate cleanser or as an after dinner drink. Keep your bottles of Limoncello in the freezer until ready to serve. The ingredients are simple and few, and making a batch doesn't require much work, but you'll need some time.

This recipe will yield a couple of bottles. I usually double the recipe and then find fun bottles or containers to store the liqueur in... they make great hosting gifts!


1 liter grain alcohol
5 1/2 cups water
5 large lemons (or 10 small lemons)
2 1/2 cups sugar

-Gently wash lemons in cool water to remove any dirt
-Peel away zest from lemon leaving as little pith (the white stiff) as possible.
-Put peels in a large sealed jar or container (I reused the alcohol bottle)
-Pour alcohol over peels and place container in a cool place.
-Leave the mixture for 7 days.
-Every day give the container a little swirl. You will see the alcohol become darker and darker every day.

-After 7 days, strain the alcohol by using a coffee filter.
-Prepare the simple syrup. Bring the water to a boil and add the sugar to dissolve.
-Mix the syrup with the alcohol. BE CAREFUL... DO NOT DO THIS NEAR A FLAME!!!
-Pour the limoncello into bottles or containers. Let cool completely. Store in the freezer until ready to serve!
*Date your limoncello. After a year it will no longer be delicious.


  1. I don't know which to have first - the bruschetta or the limoncello. An Italian friend gave us the supplies to make Limoncello but I haven't taken the time to make it yet. However, now that I've seen yours, perhaps it's time.

  2. Thanks for the great challenge! The limoncello was a first for me and I quite enjoyed it! I love the bottle you used for the limoncello, I wish I could find some like that. Very cute!

  3. oh, so tasty! thank you so much for sharing, my mom will love this!

  4. Heather- I bought the bottles at Ikea!

  5. Lauren, this was a lovely choice. The bruschetta was great, but I haven't had a chance to taste the limoncello - I'm out of town on a family emergency. Thanks for hosting!

  6. You did a beautiful job. My post is finally up. I am so glad I had the push to do limoncello. Thank you for a great idea in the summer.

  7. Yes, this is great with limoncello

  8. Lauren, thanks for such a great and tasty challenge. Limoncello will have to wait though...
    I'll be posting about bruschetta tomorrow, I just came back from holidays and I'm soo tired.

  9. This was a great choice! I didn't make the limoncello, but the bruschetta was unbelievably good. I have a new respect for it. Thanks for hosting!

  10. great job hosting, the recipes were perfect for a hot July! Your pictures are gorgeous and I really really need to make a successful batch of limoncello if only because it is so pretty.

  11. Oh I love bruschetta and Limoncello is so good. Maybe since I live not far away from Italy I ve got some Italian in me :)

  12. I loved making this limoncello, it was fantastic! Love your bottles, great idea to use it as a hostess gift.

  13. thank you so much for hosting! great limoncello challenge, i love that it's something that i can use for a looooong while.

  14. This was a great challenge! Your bruschetta looks fabulous!


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