Master entertainer and celebrity chef David Rocco has been a guest and host in homes all around the world. Here, he shares tips to ensure your holiday entertaining runs smoothly:
Start things off right: Nothing says welcome like a festive beverage upon arrival accompanied by a make-ahead charcuterie platter of nibbles.
Keep it simple: Create a crowd-pleasing, non-fussy dish like pasta. It’s a classic that’s perfect for when you want to spend more time mingling and less time in the kitchen.
Share the table: Disconnect from technology and focus on each other. Create a table rule to leave devices at the door so everyone can fully enjoy time with their favourite people. Find more tips at Barilla’s www.sharethetable.ca.
It doesn’t have to be perfect: More than anything, your guests will enjoy your company, so remember to cherish the time and don’t worry if the cutlery doesn’t match.
David Rocco’s Pasta Al Forno
• 1 box Barilla Rigatoni
• 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 large eggplant, cubed
• 15 pitted black olives, chopped
• 10 large sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
• 3 cups tomato purée
• 3/4 lb mozzarella cheese, shredded
• Smoked scamorza cheese, roughly chopped
• Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
• 2 dried chili peppers, crushed (optional)
1. Cook pasta according to package instructions. While it’s cooking, heat a saucepan over medium-high heat, add olive oil, and brown garlic. Making sure oil is hot, add eggplant, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and chili peppers. Sauté until eggplant is soft and slightly golden. Add salt and tomato purée and simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. Drain pasta and return to the pot. Add sauce, mozzarella, and scamorza cheese. Stir well. Pour into a large baking dish, top with a good sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano, and bake in a 400°F (200°C) oven for about 30 minutes or until beautifully golden and crisp.