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Broiling the eggplant speeds up the cooking—and adds a smoky, earthy element to the sauce. It only takes three or four days to make real porchetta! Oh, wait. THIS is one you can make fast, whenever you're in the mood. Cut an Italian classic down to size by replacing part of the rice with butternut squash for a beta-carotene boost and more fiber.

This pasta is a total knockout—the kind of seriously delicious dinner for a night when you just want to curl up, all comfy, and conk out. We took some inspiration from a classic Italian appetizer, prosciutto and melon. But in this dish the fruit is whipped into a creamy sauce and the prosciutto is fried into crunchy flecks! The name's a mouthful, the presentation is like a restaurant, and the trick is that this is eminently doable any night. Use lasagna noodles in place of manicotti, or skip the rolling altogether and toss the filling with cooked pasta shells.

It's like lasagna, only it's a soup, and it's lighter, and it won't take hours to make. Anchovies and raisings? Saffron and pine nuts? It's all deeply Sicilian—and deeply satisfying.

Everyday Pasta

Recipe Roundup. What's New. Not every meal includes all these courses, Grant tells WebMD, but important meals like a Sunday lunch or festive meal would definitely feature them all. Dinner -- small, but satisfying.


Italians keep things light for their last meal of the day. A typical dinner might include soup, cold cuts, or a small plate of pasta, served with vegetables and a small piece of cheese. Snacks and sweets. Italians seldom eat between meals, according to Susan Mckenna Grant, which keeps their consumption of junk food fairly low. When you visit a supermarket in Italy, you'll notice that potato chips, soft drinks, and breakfast cereals occupy a small amount of shelf space compared to stores in North America.

As for desserts, most meals end with small portions of cheese, nuts, or fruit -- peaches, plums, grapes, pears, apricots, figs, or cherries. Cakes and other sweets are reserved for special occasions and holidays. Italian food, American favorites. In this country, we can't seem to get enough pizza. But, at around calories per cheese and pepperoni-topped slice, this out-of-hand consumption may play a role in the expanding size of the American waistline. In Italy, pizza is the type of food you'd eat on a Saturday, when you're out and about with friends, Frezza tells WebMD.

While young Italians are increasingly turning to American-style toppings, traditional Italian pizza is eaten only with cheese and vegetables, keeping it lower in calories and higher in both fiber and nutrients.

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As for the butter-soaked garlic bread that is often served with pasta, it's very different from the Italian version. Italians rarely use butter on bread, according to Frezza. They sometimes use olive oil, but just a drop! The Italian version of garlic bread, called "Bruschetta," is never served with pasta, but with fish, salads, or stews. Food awareness. To Italians, ingredient quality is of utmost importance, says Grant, and people spend more time and money on their food than Americans do.

Food is seldom imported, and Italians are generally suspicious of products that aren't local. Besides knowing the source of their food, most Italians know just what to do with it -- how to prepare and cook it to maximize taste, nutrition , and presentation, she says. Americans, on the other hand, are motivated more by convenience than concern for health or freshness. The family table. Food plays a big role in the life of the average Italian, says Susan McKenna Grant: "Meals are still important daily events and families sit down together for them. Since more than four in five Americans wish they had more time to spend with family according to a poll commissioned by the Center for a New American Dream , designating two or three nights per week "Family Dinner Nights" could help enhance family closeness.

Family dining may have health benefits, too.

Everyday Pasta

Research shows that American families who eat dinner together tend to feast on healthier foods than those who rarely or never eat meals as a family. It turns out that families who eat together consume more fruits and vegetables , and fewer foods that are fried or high in trans fats. Beverage basics. Italians don't drink sugary sodas with meals; instead, they quench their thirst with water, wine or watered-down wine , or beer.

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  7. Portions are kept small -- a glass of wine, not a bottle, according to Frezza. And refills of beer are unusual at dinner. Not so in America, where non-diet soft drinks, including sodas and other sugary beverages like fruit drinks, lemonade, and iced tea, now account for nearly half of all the added sugar we eat or drink -- and are the main source of calories in the average American diet, according to preliminary research from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University.

    All this sugar doesn'tlook good on our waistlines. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition examined more than 40 years' worth of research and found a clear link between the rise in sugary drink consumption and the swell in obesity. The pleasure of food. When was the last time you really enjoyed eating?

    Although we're consuming more calories, the average American derives less pleasure from them than in the past, a survey from the Pew Research Center finds. We can learn a lot from the Italians, to whom food and eating are a pleasure.

    Which could be part of our problem -- Americans are prone to consume without tasting; to eat, but feel too guilty to relish our food. The Pew Research Center survey found that people who enjoyed their food were more likely to also enjoy cooking.

    Glossary of Italian Cooking Terms | Memorie di Angelina

    To Italians, preparing the food is as important as eating it, says Frezza, since it's part of the ritual. Bottom line: "All real food is healthy if you eat it in moderation," says Grant. Mozzarella cheese and tomatoes is a very popular summer dish in Italy.