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Charcuterie & Cheese
What's the difference between prosciutto, bacon and pancetta?

Bacon and pancetta are both salt-cured meat from the pork belly. Bacon, however, is smoked. Prosciutto is a cured meat that comes from the hind leg (not the belly).

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What’s the best cheese for melting?

For macaroni, American cheese, Velveeta, and other processed cheese products melt evenly and are great for making cheese sauce. But if you prefer natural cheeses—and particularly Italian cheeses—try Asiago, Provolone, and Fontina.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
Do you have to cook prosciutto before eating it?

In order to make prosciutto, it needs to be heavily cured, dried, and aged for several years. Due to this process, prosciutto can be consumed directly out of the package—no cooking necessary. However, frying in a few teaspoons of oil or baking in the oven for a few minutes will create a crunchy, salty topping for salads, pastas, and even pizzas.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What is charcuterie?

Charcuterie is a collection of preserved meats that involve curing methods such as smoking, salting, and drying. Examples include prosciutto, pancetta, and salami. Typically a charcuterie board will feature several of these meats, along with specialty cheeses, bread, and a variety of condiments.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What's the difference between cottage cheese and ricotta?

The biggest difference between ricotta and cottage cheese is the texture. During the cheese making process, milk is separated into curds and whey. The curds are used to make cottage cheese, while the whey liquid is traditionally used to make ricotta. That's why ricotta has a smooth but slightly grainy texture, and cottage cheese is lumpy (for lack of a better word).

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What is guanciale?

Made from cured pig jowl (cheeks), guanciale is a non-smoked meat that contains a high fat percentage. Due to the high amount of fat, it has a similar flavor and texture to bacon and can be used in place of bacon in many recipes.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What’s the difference between mascarpone and cream cheese?

By law, cream cheese must contain at least 33 percent milk fat and less than 55 percent moisture. It's made from a combination of milk and cream—some also include stabilizers. Mascarpone, which originated in Italy, contains closer to 50 percent fat and is made from whole cream. Both are considered fresh, unripened cheeses.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
How do I make cheese sauce for macaroni?

To make a cheese sauce for 8 ounces of pasta, you will need 2 cups of warm milk, a roux, and 8 ounces of cheese. A roux is simply a mixture of fat and flour—in this case, butter and flour. Gently warm the milk on the stovetop or in the microwave. Meanwhile, start your roux: In a saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons of butter over low heat. Gradually whisk in 4 tablespoons of flour, whisking until thick, bubbly and pale yellow. Add the warm milk and stir frequently until thickened. Add your cheese and stir until melted. Remove from heat, season to taste, and pour over your cooked pasta.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What is Pecorino Romano cheese?

Romano is a type of Italian hard cheese with a salty, nutty flavor that's nice for grating over pasta, sauces, pizzas, and salads. If you see the word pecorino, that means the cheese was made from ewe's milk—or sheep's milk.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
Does parmesan cheese need to be made in a certain region in Italy?

True Parmesan, called Parmigiano Reggiano, is strictly regulated in Europe and must be produced in specific regions with grass-fed cow’s milk, salt, and rennet. In the U.S., however, these regulations do not apply. That’s why many different kinds of Parmesan are available. But if you want the real deal, look for the Parmigiano Reggiano stamp on the rind.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What's the difference between fresh mozzarella and shredded mozzarella?

Fresh mozzarella is made in smaller batches and stored in brine or whey until it's eaten. While it's best eaten the day it's made, it can last for several days in the fridge if stored in the brine or whey. This is the kind of mozzarella you might find sliced in a caprese salad or sold in pearl or ball shapes—it has a delicate milky flavor that's hard to beat. Processed mozzarella, on the other hand, has a lower moisture content and is often sold shredded for pizzas. It melts better than fresh mozzarella and lasts longer in the fridge.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What are some Italian meats that aren’t pepperoni?

There is a whole wonderful world of Italian cold cuts beyond pepperoni. These include: genoa salami—made with pork, garlic, pepper, and red wine; soppressata—made with pork, red pepper flakes, and cured until 30 percent of it's weight is lost; pancetta—salt-cured pork belly; prosciutto—dry-cured ham; mortadella—what gave rise to bologna, only with a creamier consistency; guanciale—cured pig jowl; and capocolla (coppa)—cured pork neck and shoulder roasts.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What is bologna?

Bologna, originating in Balogna, Italy, is a type of sausage made from a combination of meats, most commonly beef and pork. It is derived from the Italian sausage known as mortadella.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
What are recommended cheeses for a cheese plate?

For an Italian cheese board pick 3 to 5 of your favorite Italian cheeses, and try to include a variety of flavors and textures. A combination of Fresh Mozzarella, Gorgonzola, Parmigiano Reggiano, and Asiago makes a nice assortment.

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Charcuterie & Cheese
How much charcuterie should I buy per person?

You'll want between 2 and 5 ounces per person. Stick to the higher portion if it will be the main part of the meal, and remember to include penty of bread, crackers, or crostini.

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Cooking
What's the difference between olive oil and extra virgin olive oil?

Extra virgin olive oil is the highest quality olive oil. Despite many different regulations that classify extra virgin olive oil, it must be pressed from fresh olives under lower temperatures that will not degrade the oil. Regular olive oil is considered a refined oil, since heat or chemicals are used to extract the oil. Remember, all types tend to degrade over time so make sure to consume the "good stuff" within about 2 years.

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Cooking
Can I make risotto with regular rice?

Risotto is typically made with a specific Italian short-grain rice called Arborio rice. Slowly adding hot broth or water helps extract the starches in this rice to yield a thick and creamy sauce. Although you can use the same method to cook different types of rice, the texture and creaminess that's unique to risotto can only be achieved through the use of Arborio rice.

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Cooking
What is grissini?

Grissini is a very thin and crispy breadstick that can be found in the bakery section or within the Italian display at your local Hy-Vee.

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Cooking
How do I keep the top of my baked pasta or lasagna from burning?

Baked pastas and lasagnas spend lots of time in the oven to achieve ooey-gooey perfection. Sometimes the top cheese layer can darken, or even burn. To keep this from happening, make sure to bake your pasta on the middle shelf of the oven and cover lightly with aluminum foil.

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Cooking
What’s a good bread to go with pasta?

Glad you asked. You're going to need it to mop up any saucy extras. Many breads would suffice, but we recommend softer breads, such as Garlic Crown Bread or foccacia.

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Cooking
What's the difference between polenta and cornmeal?

Cornmeal is ground dried corn kernels. It can be fine, medium, or coarse in texture. Polenta is actually a porridge-like dish, not an ingredient. It's made from course cornmeal. You can find prepared polenta in a tube, which is best when sliced and grilled or pan fried.

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Cooking
What’s the best way to reheat pizza?

The microwave is the fastest way to reheat pizza, but the best way is in the oven or in a skillet. For the oven: Preheat to 450 degrees. Place a baking sheet in the oven while it's preheating. Carefully place pizza slices on the hot baking sheet and bake for about 10 to 12 minutes. For the stovetop, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the pizza in the pan and cook for a couple of minutes. Then add a couple drops of water to the pan and cover. The steam should melt the cheese in about 1 to 2 minutes.

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Cooking
What’s a simple appetizer to make for a crowd?

Appetizers don't need to be complicated. When it comes to feeding a crowd, a charcuterie board, caprese skewers, or small meatballs alongside cheese, crackers, and spreads will go a long way.

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Cooking
What is panzanella?

Let's be honest, croutons are everyone's favorite part of salads, and panzanella is loaded with 'em. This traditional Tuscan salad features artisan bread soaked in dressing.

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Cooking
How do I make pesto?

Pesto is made from blending fresh basil leaves, garlic, pine nuts, salt, parmesan cheese, and olive oil. There are different ways to make pesto; you can use a blender, food processor, or hand grind the ingredients using a mortar and pestle for a chunkier sauce.

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Cooking
Should I salt eggplant before cooking it?

Some recipes include a step that says to salt slices of eggplant and place them in a colendar for about an hour. This is meant to draw out water and bitterness before cooking. However, because more and more eggplants are bred to be less bitter, this step is really a matter of preference.

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Cooking
How do I make vinaigrette salad dressing?

A basic vinaigrette can be made from following this simple rule: one part vinegar or acid to three parts oil. Vinaigrettes can be seasoned with different spices, fruits, vinegars, and oils. Use your favorite combinations to pour on top of salads, meats, fish, and grains.

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Cooking
What do I do with fennel?

With flavors similar to anise and licorice, fennel is a unique ingredient used in many Italian dishes. Although the bulb is most commonly used, the leaves (fronds), stems, and seeds can also be used to create flavorful dishes. It can be eaten raw, baked, grilled, stewed, or sauteed. Try slicing the bulb and sauteeing in extra virgin olive oil along with sliced sweet peppers. Garnish with the fennel fronds for a quick Italian side dish.

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Cooking
What is gnocchi made out of?

Gnocchi is a type of Italian dumpling that is made out of potatoes and flour. These ingredients give a soft and pillowy texture. Gnocchi goes well with any type of pasta sauce. For a crispy exterior and deeper flavor, lightly sear the gnocchi in a skillet with butter or olive oil over medium heat before mixing with sauce.

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Cooking
What is Bolognese sauce?

Getting its name from the city of Bologna, this Italian tomato sauce is packed with ground beef, tomatoes, onions, and herbs. Some recipes also include bacon or pancetta. (Yum!) We recommend making an extra big batch and storing portions in the freezer for quick weeknight meals in the coming weeks.

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Cooking
How do I store leftover tomato paste?

Place extra tomato paste in a glass or plastic container with a tight fitting lid or a resealable plastic bag. If you're planning on using it within the next few days, store in the refrigerator. If not, freeze until you're ready to use it again. Do not store in the opened metal can.

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Cooking
What's the reason for putting vodka in tomato sauce?

Also reffered to as "pink sauce," the addition of vodka to tomato sauce was originally added to increase the tomato flavor within the sauce. Unlike wine, vodka keeps the flavor of the sauce clean and does not impart a bitter or overpowering taste.

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Cooking
What's an appropriate hostess gift for a dinner party?

While you're not obligated to bring a hostess gift, it's certainly a nice gesture to show your appreciation. Consider a bottle of wine or limoncello, a seasonal floral arrangement, or a tasty treat, such as chocolate or biscotti.

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Cooking
What is focaccia?

Focaccia is an Italian flatbread that's a little thicker than pizza crust. It's often baked with toppings such as fresh herbs, seasonings, and cheese. Our favorite is the Asiago Cheese Focaccia. Look for it in the Bakery.

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Cooking
How do I make crostini?

You can make crostini by slicing a baguette vertically into 1/4-inch slices. Place on a baking sheet and lightly brush both sides of each slice with melted butter or olive oil. Bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes or until lightly toasted.

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Cooking
What are different ways to use artisan bread?

Oh the possibilities! Use artisan bread to make open-faced sandwiches; mini pizzas; homemade croutons; crostini; DIY breadcrumbs; the best-ever grilled cheese; and the list goes on… But don't forget to save a few slices for French toast in the morning.

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Cooking
What is Balsamic Vinegar of Modena?

Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is a high-quality vinegar made from grape must and aged in wooden barrels. It has an intense flavor that's best enjoyed in its purest form. In other words, just drizzle it over fruits, cheeses, meats, vegetables, salads, pastas, breads, and pretty much anything you want to make taste fantasic.

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Cooking
What’s a simple way to make homemade tomato sauce?

Tomato sauces use a base of—you guessed it—tomatoes! An easy way to make a homemade sauce is to combine canned or jarred chopped tomatoes, garlic, onions, and Italian seasonings into a slow cooker or a heavy stock pot on the stove. Cover and simmer on low until onions soften. Serve over a bed of your favorite pasta. (Or on a pile of roasted vegetables.)

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Cooking
How do I prepare an artichocke?

To prepare a whole artichoke, use kitchen scissors to snip the pointy ends of the artichoke petals and pull off any small petals at the base. Then slice off the top of the artichoke, about an inch from the top. Trim the stem, so that only about an inch remains. Place the artichoke in a steam basket over boiling water, cover, reduce to a simmer, and steam for about 30 to 45 minutes until tender. To eat: Pull off outer petals, dip the fleshy end in dip, and use your teeth to scrape the flesh off the end of the petal. When the petals are all removed, scrape off the fuzzy part, reavealing the artichoke heart. Cut this part into pieces and eat—some say it's the best part!

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Cooking
What is antipasto?

Antipasto is an Italian term for appetizer or first course. It generally includes a combination of meats, cheeses, olives, anchovies, or marinated vegetables.

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Cooking
What's the difference between flatbread and pizza crust?

Most flatbreads are thinner and crispier than traditional pizza crusts. This is because they are made with unleavened dough (without yeast). Traditional pizza crust, on the other hand, is generally made with yeast and requires time to rise.

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Cooking
What's the difference between tomato sauce and marinara?

Marinaras and tomato sauces can be thought of as cousins. Marinara is known for its robust combination of olive oil, onions, garlic, herbs, and tomatoes. Tomato sauces have a more flexible identity and generally use tomatoes as the base for herbs and seasonings.

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Cooking
What's the difference between balsamic vinegar and other types?

Balsamic vinegar is a sweet black/brown vinegar that has been aged in wooden barrels. The aging process is what separates balsamic from other vinegars. Depending on the type of barrels used, it can impart different flavors on the vinegar ranging from sweet, tangy, citrusy, and smoky.

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Cooking
What is polenta?

Polenta is a dish that's made from cooked coursely ground cornmeal. It is often prepared with cream, broth, or water, and has a texture similar to porridge. The polenta sold in the tube is fully cooked and can be sliced and baked, grilled, or pan fried.

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Cooking
What’s a substitute for wine in cooking?

Depending on the dish, different substitutes can be used. When deglazing a pan after sauteeing meat or vegetables, lemon juice, chicken or vegetable stock, and even unsweetened white grape or apple juice can be used. Always review your recipes before substituting, as the recipe may include a substitution for wine.

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Cooking
How do I make thin crust pizza dough?

Thin pizza dough is made from the same basic ingredients as any other pizza dough: flour, water, yeast, salt, and sugar. After kneading the dough, it's rolled, pricked, topped, and baked. Not allowing the dough to rise will produce a thin chewy crust.

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Cooking
How do I make thick crust pizza dough?

The secret to any good pizza dough is letting it have plenty of time to rise (about 90 minutes to 2 hours). From there, the thickness or thinness of the crust depends on how thick or thin you roll your dough. If you like thick crust, you can also use foccacia bread from the bakery as a pizza crust. Just top it with sauce, toppings, and cheese and bake until cheese is melted and bread is warmed through.

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Cooking
What’s a fast way to make pizza crust?

You can make a quick homemade pizza crust dough by skipping the rising step in your favorite recipe. The result will be a thin pizza crust, which some people prefer. You can also get creative by using store-bought flatbreads, pita breads, and slices of artisan bread to make homemade pizza.

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Cooking
Can I make risotto in the slow cooker?

Yes! Add all of the ingredients, excluding the Parmesan cheese, to a slow cooker and simmer away (about 2 hours). The broth will slowly cook the Arborio rice and the starches from the grain will make the risotto thick and creamy. Just remember to add the cheese during the final 10 minutes of cooking.

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Cooking
Can I freeze my homemade pizza dough?

After the dough has risen for the first time, divide the dough into desired amounts. Form into balls, lightly spray the outside in non-stick spray or olive oil, and place in a re-sealable bag making sure to remove excess air. To thaw, place in the refrigerator for 12 hours or overnight. Roll out, sprinkle with desired toppings, and bake.

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Cooking
What’s an easy dish to feed a crowd?

Hosting an Itlaian night? Pasta, meatballs, and roasted vegetables are all easy to make in large batches. For more casual gatherings, Italian Gorgonzola Burgers are a must.

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Dessert
What's the difference between gelato and ice cream?

We get this question a lot. Here are the main differences between gelato and ice cream: Ice cream usually contains eggs, while gelato does not. Ice cream must contain at least 10 percent milk fat, while gelato generally contains between 4 and 9 percent. Ice cream is churned at a higher speed to incorporate more air, while gelato is churned slowly. So what's the difference in taste? We'll let you do the side-by-side comparison and be the judge of that.

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Dessert
What’s an easy dessert?

Desserts don’t have to be complicated. Try these quick and easy dessert ideas when your in a time crunch: grilled fruit with sweetened mascarpone cheese; gelato sandwiched between two Italian cookies; or serve a cup of coffee with a side of biscotti.

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Dessert
How do I make tiramisu?

Tiramisu is made from mascarpone cheese, espresso, rum, and lady fingers. The mascarpone cheese is sweetened with sugar and sometimes thickened with pasteurized egg yolks. Then, lady fingers soaked in espresso and rum are stacked between layers of sweetened mascarpone. The top is then decorated with a dusting of cocoa powder and a generous helping of chocolate shavings.

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Dessert
What’s a good Italian cookie to make?

Our favorite is biscotti. These crunchy twice-baked cookies contain a mixture of nuts and fruit—some are even partially dipped in chocolate. It's their cripsy texture that makes them perfect for dunking into a hot cup of coffee.

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Dessert
What are some Italian desserts?

Many pastries, cakes, and cookies exist within the Italian culture. Among these desserts, the most famous ones include semifreddo, cannoli, gelato, panna cotta, and tiramisu.

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Dessert
What is panna cotta?

Meaning "cooked cream," panna cotta is a classic refrigerated Italian dessert made from a thick gelatin-infused custard. Typical toppings include fruit sauce or caramel syrup, but don't be afraid to experiment with nuts, chocolates, or liqueurs.

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Dessert
What is marzipan?

Made out of ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites, marzipan can be colored to create edible and colorful decorations on cakes and pastries.

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Dessert
What is a crostata?

Think of crostatas as rustic pies that are baked directly on a baking sheet (without using a pie pan). The base is a shortcrust pastry and can be filled with savory or sweet ingredients. Many traditional crostatas are then topped with a lattice crust.

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Dessert
What is semifreddo?

Literally translating to "half cold," semifreddo is a common name for a partially frozen Italian dessert made from whipped cream with or without custard. Semifreddos can incorporate lighter flavors such as fruit, citrus, and cream, or more intense flavors such as coffee, chocolate, and caramel.

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Dessert
What are some other ways to serve gelato?

Gelato and ice cream are different by definition, but they can be used interchangably in recipes. Use gelato to make shakes, floats (with Italian soda), cookie sandwiches, frozen cakes, and anything your imagination can dream up.

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Dessert
How are cannoli made?

Cannoli shells are made out of a dough consisting of flour, sugar, shortening, eggs, and wine or vinegar. The dough is then rolled thin and cut into circles. The circles are then formed around a circular mold and baked or fried. Once cooled, they're filled with a sweetened rictotta filling and garnished with chocolate, nuts, and other delectable toppings.

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Dessert
What are some good Italian cookies to buy?

If you're looking for a quick Italian cookie fix, try La Mole's line of cookies. Their flavors include: Cioccoban, Fior Di Zucchero (sugar cookies), Ginevine Mini, Torcetti Cocoa (chocolate swirled cookie with crystalized sugar), or Torcetti Butter (butter cookie with crystalized sugar).

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Health
How do I make pizza, lasagna and other Italian dishes healthier?

Believe it or not, pasta can be really good for you. Just remember a few helpful tips. 1. Use a high-quality cheese. This way you can use less and still get all the flavor. 2. Swap heavy cream for half and half in cream-based sauces and soups. 3. Try whole-wheat pasta for added fiber (or mix half whole-wheat with regular pasta). 4. Choose lean meats, such as lean turkey sausage, fish, or chicken breasts. 5. Add lots of veggies. 6. Keep portions in check by rounding out your plate with a leafy green salad.

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Health
What’s a good vegan substitute for cheese?

Daiya shredded mozzarella is a type of vegan cheese. Look for it in the HealthMarket section.

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Health
Where do I find tofu?

Most often, tofu and other meat substitutes are located in the refrigerated section of the HealthMarket department. If not, you can ask a helpful Hy-Vee associate for assistance.

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Health
What are some gluten-free desserts?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. When it comes to Italian desserts, gluten-free options include gelato (but be sure to check the label), panna cotta, or fruit-topped mascarpone or ricotta cheese.

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Health
How do I make gluten-free pizza dough?

To make gluten-free pizza dough, you can either start with a gluten-free pizza crust mix (which you'll find in the gluten-free aisle of the HealthMarket section) or you can make one from scratch. Try this recipe for Gluten-Free Pizza Supreme.

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Health
Where do I find gluten-free pasta?

Look for gluten-free pasta in the gluten-free aisle of the HealthMarket section.

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Health
What are some low carb Italian dishes?

Meatballs, Italian-Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and Caprese Salads are all delicious low-carb Italian options. To make your favorite pasta recipe low carb, swap out the noodles for vegetable noodles (like zucchini noodles). For pizza, try using a cauliflower pizza crust or make mini pizzas using slices of roasted eggplant as the crust.

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Pasta
Can I make pasta ahead of time before adding sauce?

You can make pasta a day or two in advance. Simply cook it to al dente, coat the pasta in a little olive oil, and store in an airtight container in the fridge. When you're ready to add your sauce, place the pasta in boiling water for 30 seconds (just to warm it). Then drain and proceed with your recipe.

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Pasta
What is al dente?

Al dente means "to the tooth." Cooking pasta al dente is cooking it so it's slighty firm to the bite.

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Pasta
Why should I salt the water to boil pasta?

Salting the water to boil pasta will elevate the flavor of the pasta.

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Pasta
What are some sauces for pasta besides tomato sauce?

Alfredo sauce is a popular alternative to tomato sauce. But don't overlook Gustare Vita's pesto sauce, vodka sauce, or truffle sauce—or even a simple garlic-butter sauce.

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Pasta
What’s the best way to reheat pasta?

If your pasta has sauce, place the pasta in a shallow oven-proof dish, cover with foil, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, until heated through. If the pasta has no sauce, you can throw it in boiling water for about 30 seconds to reheat.

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Pasta
What is tetrazzini?

Tetrazzini is a baked pasta dish held together with a white sauce. It's often made with linguini, peas, and chicken.

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Pasta
Is orzo pasta or rice?

Italian for "barley," orzo can play mind games. Although it is shaped like individual grains of barley or rice, orzo is actually pasta. It is made from the same ingredients as your spaghetti.

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Pasta
What are the bow-tie shaped pasta called?

It's called farfalle, but many people just call it "bow-tie pasta." Does this shape remind you of anything else? The name of this pasta, in Italian, is farfalle translating to mean "butterflies."

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Pasta
How long will cooked pasta last in the fridge?

You can store leftover pasta in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 5 days. If the pasta does not have a sauce, drizzle a little olive oil on the pasta before storing. This will prevent it from sticking together.

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Pasta
What's the difference between linguini and spaghetti?

Spaghetti consists of thin, long strands of pasta which is traditionally used to accompany tomato based sauces. Linguini, on the other hand, is a thick, flat, long strand of pasta. Since it is thicker than spaghetti, it is used for more substantial dishes with thicker sauces and more toppings. Think pesto, chunky tomato sauces, and seafood dishes.

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Pasta
What's the difference between Teflon and bronze cut pasta?

To make different pasta shapes, the dough must be pressed through a die. Dies are either bronze or Teflon. Old-world bronze dies are considered artisan and produce a more coarse, rough texture, allowing the sauce to stick. Teflon dies are more modern and give the pasta a smooth, slick texture.

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Pasta
What is fusilli?

Kids love it. Adults love it. Everyone loves it. Fusilli is a type of spiral-shaped pasta that's great for heartier or chunky sauces. It's also good for baked pastas.

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Pasta
What is rigatoni?

These wide ridged tubes are commonly used for baked pasta or with hearty, chunky sauces.

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Pasta
What is farfalle?

Known as the "bow-tie pasta," farfalle is used to create pasta salads and can also be added to soups, mixed with pesto, butter, or cream sauces.

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Pasta
What is penne rigatte?

Shapped like narrow ridged tubes, this pasta can be used for baked pasta dishes or mixed with cream- or vegetable-based sauces.

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Pasta
What is conchiglie?

Getting its name from a conch shell, this small shell-shaped pasta is often used for shells and cheese or pasta salads.

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Pasta
What are some other ways to use alfredo sauce, besides on fettucini?

Don't limit white sauce! Although it makes a mean chicken alfredo pasta dish, use this sauce on top of pizzas or spread on sandwiches for an extra punch of flavor.

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Pasta
What's the difference between tortellini and ravioli?

Both tortellini and ravioli are stuffed with mixtures of ground meat, cheese, and/or vegetables. The main difference between the two comes down to shape. Typically, ravioli is larger and comes in squares, rectangles, or circles. Tortelllini are smaller and are typically rolled into rings after they are stuffed.

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Pasta
What is fusilli?

Fusilli is a spiral-shaped pasta that's great for pasta salads and pastas with heavier sauces.

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Pasta
What sauce goes with what pasta?

Spaghetti (long, thin): Pair with tomato, cream, or oil-based sauce.
Fettuccine (long, flat): Pair with rich, creamy sauces and seafood.
Orzo (small, rice-shaped): Use for pasta salad, soup, or with oil-based sauce.
Rigatonni (wide ridged tubes): Use for baked pasta or with hearty, chunky sauces.
Farfalle (bowtie): Use for pasta salad, soup, or with pesto, butter, or cream sauces.
Penne Rigatte (narrow, ridged tube): Use for baked pasta or with cream or vegetable sauces.
Conchiglie (shells): Use for pasta salad or with cheese or chunky sauces.
Fusilli (spirals): Use for baked pasta or with hearty, chunky sauces.
Ravioli & Tortellini (stuffed): Pair with light butter or oil sauce.
Jumbo Shells (large shells): Stuff with ricotta cheese mixtures and bake with tomato sauce.
Macaroni (small elbow tubes): Use for baked pastas or with cheese sauces.

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Wine & Spirits
What is grappa?

Grappa is a strong digestif that is served at the end of the meal. It is a type of distilled brandy that is made from the residue, grape skins, pulp, seeds, leaves, and stems of grapes and vines after they have been processed to make wine.

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What's the difference between Prosecco and Champagne?

Prosecco and Champagne are both refreshing sparkling wines. The difference between them comes from government regulations. Champagne can only be made in France, in the region of Champagne. Prosecco, on the other hand, is made in the veneto region of Italy and has a lower price point than Champagne.

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What’s the best beer to pair with Italian food?

Great question! When it comes to pairing beverages with Italian food, it's not just about wine. There are many different kinds of beers to consider, and some that are produced in Italy. The most common beers tend to be pale ales or lagers, with Peroni and Bierra Moretti being among the most popular Italian brands.

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Can I make simple syrup with honey or agave instead of sugar?

Simple syrup is the combination of sugar and water, typically in a 1:1 ratio. If you're not interested in using sugar, substitute honey or agave in its place.

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What are some fun drink options to serve at an Italian-themed party?

Italian cocktails are some of the most delicious drinks around. For something light and refreshing, try Bellinis—a combination of peach puree and Prosecco. For something a little more iconic to the Italian theme, put negronis on the menu. They're equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. (Campari is a bright red bitter-sweet liqueur.) For non-alchoholic options, try flavored San Pellegrino Sparkling Waters, Galvanina Organic Sodas, or San Benedetto Sparkling Waters.

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I'm looking for a new wine to try. What do you recommend?

We've got four must-trys for the month of September. Each one is imported from Italy and will be difficult to find anywhere else in the Midwest. For red, look for Mentore Morellino di Scansano, a red blend made from 85% Sangiovese grapes. For white, the Lucumone Maremma Toscana is made from 100% Vermentino Bianco grapes. Also in white is Pinto Grigio Trentino, a full and fresh medium-bodied wine with fruit and floral aromas. For Rose lovers, try the Rosato di Toscana, a fresh and fruity wine with touches of violet—perfect for those end-of-summer nights.

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What is Lambrusco?

Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine that contains hints of strawberry flavors with a slight bitter finish. Although it comes in various levels of sweetness in Italy, the sweetest version (dolce) is typically found within the States.

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How do I make sangria?

Sangria is a drink that can be made with red or white wine and a mixture of seasonal fruits, as well as a combination of other liqueurs. To make, slice fruit, add liqueur, and combine with wine. Store in refrigerator for at least 2 hours to let flavors develop. When ready to serve, remove from refrigerator, add to glass and top with Champagne or Prosecco, if desired.

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What is an aperitif?

An aperitif is an alacholic drink served before a meal. It's thought to stimulate the appetite.

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How do I make limoncello?

This lemon-infused Italian digestif can be found in your local Hy-Vee or made to your liking in your own home. Limoncello is made by combining the zest of 10 lemons with 1 bottle (750ml) of vodka and allowing it to sit at room temperature about about 2 weeks. It's then strained and sweetened with simple syrup before sitting for an additional additional 2 weeks. Finally, it's chilled and served in 1- to 1-1/2-ounce pours.

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What's the difference between Italian soda and regular soda?

Italian sodas are soft drinks that use two simple ingredients: carbonated water and flavored simple syrups. These syrups can range in flavors from citrusy-sweet blood orange to puckery lemon.

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What are Italian liqueurs?

Many different specialty Italian cocktails are made from the following Italian liqueurs: Campari (bright red and bitter), Amaretto (made from almond or apricot pits and has a sweet finish), Aperol (made from bitter oranges), Limoncello (sweet and zesty lemon based liqueur), Anisette (made from distilled aniseed), and Vermouth (a fortified wine made form roots, barks, and spices).

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What is a digestif?

Digestifs are the final couse of a hearty Italian meal. They are believed to speed up the digestive process and round out the meal. Common digestifs include limoncello and grappa.

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What’s the best wine to pair with Italian food?


The general rule of thumb is red wine with red meat, white wine with white meat. However, an additional component to consider is the weight of the meal. For instance, if a chicken dish has a sauce that is quite rich and full of flavor, a buttery Chardonnay might detract from the overall pairing experience. High-acid white wines such as Sauvignon Blanc or Soave pair well with rich and thick sauces because the acidity cuts through fat like a knife. But rules aside, it's important to drink what you like.

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