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Creative Gourmet Italian Meals

Contributed by: NAPSA

(NAPSA) - When a busy day draws to a close, getting together with friends and family for a relaxing meal and a nice glass of wine can be one of life's simple pleasures. Entertaining at home is a great way to enjoy twilight time.
Saucy California Baked Figs
With a number of creative foods to choose from, serving your guests can be simple. Italian food is a great choice because it's fast, easy to prepare, and affordable. With these tips from Italy's Bella Sera wines, gourmet meals can be both delicious and simple to cook and serve.

Sophisticated Fare

Italian food is much more than just pasta and tomato sauce. Authentic Italian fare involves many different kinds of meat and fish, along with a variety of vegetables and cheeses. Treat your palate to some new and interesting flavors by incorporating unique and unusual foods. Homemade pesto is a delicious and easy-to-make sauce that works well with a variety of pastas. It is also the perfect accompaniment to chicken and grilled vegetables. Or try risotto, a great first course that can also be a main dish. Risotto-or rice-shaped pasta-combines deliciously with tomatoes, olives, cubed mozzarella cheese and balsamic vinaigrette. Pair your pesto or risotto with a bottle of crisp Italian Pinot Grigio, such as 2002 Bella Sera Pinot Grigio. This wine, with its medium body and refreshingly crisp taste, pairs perfectly with grilled vegetables, light pastas and seafood.

Bring In The Fresh Food

When planning your menu, fresh fruits and vegetables will add a creative flair to any meal. Instead of using tomato sauce from a jar, crush fresh summer tomatoes and add herbs to capture the distinctive flavors of Italy. Make a traditional Italian cheesecake by garnishing a supermarket cheesecake with a variety of in-season berries for a spectacular dessert that is delicious and effortless. Add some "zing" to your dishes with fresh herbs like basil, mint and parsley, which can easily be found at local markets. For an easy, yet sophisticated bite, create a Margherita pizza. Top pre-made pizza crust with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves, and serve it with 2002 Bella Sera Chardonnay. This lightly-oaked unique style of Italian Chardonnay, recently introduced in the U.S, has flavors of ripe apple, tropical fruit and vanilla. It is a perfect match for pizzas, pastas or grilled chicken.



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