Pasta Perfect Go-To Dinner Party Menu


Pesto Mozzarella Stacks Over Greens

Penne Carbonara with Peas

Amaretti Ice Cream

Amoretti Ice Cream Image 1

BLUEPRINT: This is a simple, elegant & light pasta dinner for six. You can make the bacon (for the pasta) and the ice cream the day before.  Prep your pesto mozzarella stacks well in advance of your guests arrival & have everything set up to go for the carbonara. Make sure to warm the bowls for the pasta and have the shaved parmesan cheese ready to go in a Ziploc. Use the Kitchen Moxie Worksheet to help you plan out the evening including, where your guests will be seated around the table.

Grocery List:

  • Fruit: n/a
  • Produce:1 large ripe tomato (technically a fruit), 1 six oz bag of Italian salad greens
  • Staples: 2 one lb boxes mezze penne pasta, olive oil
  • Dairy: 1 small packet of fresh mozzarella, 2 cups shredded parmagiano reggiano cheese, 1 whole piece parmagiano reggiano cheese, 10 large eggs, 1 sixteen oz container of heavy cream
  • Frozen: 1 sixteen oz pack of frozen baby peas
  • Baking: 1 cup sugar, 4 tbs confectioner’s sugar
  • Meat & Fish: 1 lb packet of streaky bacon
  • Spices: salt, pepper
  • Fresh Herbs: 1 bunch basil
  • Other: 1 container Buitoni pesto with basil, 1 loaf of crusty Italian bread or Ciabatta, 2 seven oz packets of amaretti biscuits, 4 tbs cherry brandy


Pesto Mozzarella Stacks Over Greens

What you need: cutting board, chef’s knife, bread knife, spatula, baking sheet/pan

Serves: 6

  • 1/2 large ripe tomato (thinly sliced)
  • 1 small pack fresh mozzarella (you will need approx. 6 slices)
  • 6 – 8 large basil leaves
  • 1 container Buitoni pesto with basil (you will need about 2 tbs)
  • 1/2 – 3/4 loaf of crusty Italian bread or ciabatta
  • 1 six oz bag of Italian salad greens
  • salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375˚. Slice the bread on an angle creating six 1” thick slices. Generously spread the pesto on each piece. Top with the thinly sliced tomato. Season the tomato with salt – just a pinch for each stack. Place the mozzarella slices on top of the tomato. Chiffonade the basil and place a little on top of each. Place the stacks on a baking sheet/pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until the mozzarella starts to melt.

To Serve: Toss the salad greens with Kitchen Moxie Vinaigrette and divide evenly on six salad plates. Place the warm pesto mozzarella stack on top. Crunchy on the bottom, gooey on the top with that added surprise of pesto.

Penne Carbonara with Peas

This recipe is an adaptation of another one of those great nail salon reads.  Years ago, I was flipping through People Magazine and came upon a blurb about the movie Eat, Pray, Love. The film’s food stylist: Susan Spungen shared a recipe for Roman Spaghetti Alla Carbonara. Immediately I knew it would be a perfect dinner party main course – few ingredients, quick to cook and who doesn’t love the combination of bacon and pasta!

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, large pot, baking sheet with wire rack, whisk, mixing bowl, vegetable peeler

Serves: 6

  • 1 1/2 box Barilla mezze penne
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups shredded parmagiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 whole piece parmagiano reggiano cheese
  • 1 lb streaky bacon
  • 1 sixteen oz pack of frozen baby peas (thawed)
  • olive oil

Preheat oven to 450˚F. Place strips of bacon on wire rack on top of baking sheet and cook until crisp (about 15 minutes). Once cooled chop the bacon into small pieces & set aside (you can actually do this the day before & just keep the bacon in the fridge). Fill your pot with about 5 quarts of water; add 1 tbs salt and a splash of olive oil. Bring to a boil. Place the cooked chopped bacon and thawed peas in a dish & let come to room temperature. Crack the eggs and whisk together, also letting them come to room temperature. Add the parmesan cheese  to the eggs and combine. Cook pasta according to packet directions. Drain and return to pot. Place pot over low heat and add in the bacon and peas. Stir to combine and season with salt & pepper. Add in the cheese/egg mixture and quickly combine. Add additional seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.

To Serve: Place the pasta in warmed bowls with some shaved parmesan on top. This is a perfect summertime pasta dish. It’s so light and the peas give it a fresh little pop.

Amaretti Ice Cream

This recipe comes from my sister-in-law Nina. The combination of the cream with the amoretti biscuits is to die for! Serve it a martini glass rimmed in sugar or amoretti dust and you’ve got a delicious and elegant make ahead dessert which is most definitely dinner party worthy!

What you need: measuring spoons/cups, large mixing bowl, rolling pin, Ziploc bag, loaf pan, saran wrap, food processor (to make the amaretti dust)

Serves: 6 – 8

  • 2 packets of amaretti biscuits (approx. 14 ozs)
  • 4 tbs of cherry brandy
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 sixteen oz. container heavy cream
  • 4 tbs of sifted confectioners’ sugar

Place all, but 6 cookies in the Ziploc bag. Seal the bag and use the rolling pin to “smash” the cookies into little pieces. Place the cookie bits into a large mixing bowl along with the heavy cream, sugar, confectioner’s sugar and brandy. Stir to combine. Line a loaf pan with saran wrap (leaving enough extra to cover the ice cream on top) and pour the mixture into the pan. Fold the excess saran wrap over the top of the ice cream to seal. Place in the freezer for at least 12, but preferably 24 hours before serving.

To Serve: I like to serve the ice cream in a martini glass rimmed with amaretti dust. Make a simple syrup.  Whiz up the 6 amaretti biscuits in a food processor. Dip the ends of the glass in the syrup and then place the glass upside down into the dust. Invert the glass and scoop in the ice cream. Super easy and super yummy!

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