(Family Features) Cool, crisp days call for comfort foods, like the classic flavors of traditional Italian cooking. Whether you’re Italian by heritage or simply by heart, learning the art of Italian cuisine may be easier than you think.

Perfect your pasta game. Limp, mushy, overcooked pasta can ruin an otherwise delicious Italian dish. Aim for al dente pasta, which is soft but still firm. It’s important to note variables like the type of pasta, size of your pot, and amount of water can all affect cooking time. Treat the package instructions as a guide and start taste testing 1-2 minutes before you expect it to be done.

Be choosy about your ingredients. Many of the best Italian dishes are incredibly simple, so selecting quality ingredients that allow the flavors to stand out is important. Made in Italy, Bertolli d’Italia sauces are available in premium red and white varieties to elevate the at-home culinary experience and bring Italy’s authentic and delicious flavors to your table. Every jar reflects more than 150 years of authentic Italian culinary tradition using high-quality ingredients like tomatoes vine-ripened under the Italian sun, finely aged Italian cheeses, fresh cream, and Mediterranean olive oil.

Give seasonings time to simmer. Great things come to those who wait. That’s why the best Italian chefs sample their sauces along the way, adding and adjusting until the taste is just right. Then, they allow the ingredients to simmer together to create a perfectly balanced harmony of flavors.

Experiment with proteins and veggies. You can create an entirely new dish for many Italian recipes by adding or swapping the protein and adding fresh produce. Try introducing juicy strips of grilled chicken and fresh, steamed broccoli to an alfredo pasta like this Cavatelli with Cacio e Pepe Sauce. Or, if you’re a seafood lover, reimagine this Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Chicken by swapping in a mild white fish like halibut, cod, or snapper.

Get cozy in your kitchen this fall with more comforting recipes at Bertolli.com.

Cavatelli with Cacio e Pepe Sauce

Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Servings: 4

  • Salt, to taste
  • One box dry Cavatelli pasta
  • 1 jar (16.9 ounces) Bertolli d’Italia Cacio e Pepe Sauce
  • 1 cup finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of cold water to a boil. Salt water heavily.

Cook dry pasta according to package instructions until al dente. Strain pasta, reserving the pasta water.

Warm pasta sauce for 3-5 minutes in a large saucepan over low heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons of pasta water.

Transfer cooked pasta to a saucepan.

Stir and toss pasta for approximately 30 seconds over medium heat to integrate it with the sauce. Add pasta water as needed for a creamier texture.

Plate pasta and top with finely grated Pecorino Romano and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Fresh Tomato Bruschetta Chicken

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 28 minutes

Servings: 6

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Three tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, plus additional, for garnish
  • Three cloves garlic, minced
  • Two teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Six thinly sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • One large onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 jar (24.7 ounces) Bertolli d’Italia Marinara Sauce
  • 2 cups multi-colored grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 stems cherry tomatoes on the vine
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Two tablespoons balsamic glaze

Preheat oven to 400 F.

In a small bowl, whisk olive oil, basil, garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano until combined. Combine two tablespoons of the oil mixture and chicken in a resealable plastic bag. Let stand for 5-10 minutes at room temperature to marinate.

Heat two tablespoons of the oil mixture in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onions; cook for 3-4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Stir in marinara sauce. Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Arrange chicken breasts in the dish, overlapping if necessary. Top with grape tomatoes and cherry tomato stems. Spoon the remaining oil mixture over the tomatoes.

Bake, covered, for 25 minutes, or until chicken is done (165 F) and tomatoes start to burst. Sprinkle with Parmesan, drizzle with balsamic glaze, and garnish with fresh basil leaves before serving.

David M. Higgins II, Publisher/Editor

David M. Higgins was born in Baltimore and grew up in Southern Maryland. He has had a passion for journalism since high school. After spending many years in the Hospitality Industry he began working in...

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