There’s more to Italy than its delicious food; this rich and dynamic culture has a great deal of complexity – but there is no denying that the food plays a big role in this beautiful country’s identity. And there is no denying that an Italian themed gift basket will make the most welcome of gifts. Perfect for virtually any occasion and any recipient, assembling a thoughtful, complete Italian or pasta gift basket is easy – and you’ll want to make at least two. One for the gift recipient, and one for you!
Let’s build a complete, multi-course Italian feast that your recipient can enjoy. Begin with appetizers: this could be as simple as including a crusty baggett, a small jar of extra virgin olive oil, and dipping herbs. Olives are a big part of the Mediterranean diet; pack a jar of exquisite, sweet belle di Cerignola olives as appetizers. These are available at gourmet food stores and online, and you can always substitute the Manzanilla olive, which is easier to find in your local grocery store. They’re Spanish, but we won’t tell that to the recipient of your Italian food basket!
Other appetizing appetizer options to consider include:
- Parmesan cheese crisps.
- Jarred bruschetta and a small loaf of Italian bread.
- La Panzanella Croccantini. These are little Italian flatbreads that are baked like crackers.
Moving on to the main course, think pasta! There are so many delicious kinds of pastas, so many shapes and textures to try. It is best if you can buy gourmet, fresh pasta to include in your gift basket. It’s a little pricier than the typical grocery store pastas, but it will be well worth it. Look in your local store for handmade pastas or order online; pastas like Rossi Pasta’s Spinach Basil Garlic Fettuccini make wonderful centerpieces for your gift basket with their charming colors and even more charming tastes.
Pair your pasta with a great sauce. In the case of the Spinach Basil Garlic, you could use hearty tomato-based sauces or creamy fettuccini sauces. Some pastas, again like the one mentioned above, are delicious served simply with fresh lemon juice and grated parmesan cheese. You could add a fresh lemon (great for your presentation as well) and a container of gourmet cheese or perhaps a vodka pasta sauce. This provides something out of the ordinary and incredibly delicious. RealSimple named Mario Batali Alla Vodka Sauce as its favorite: San Marzano tomatoes, Parmigianino-Reggiano cheese, and a touch of sweetness make this a wonderful choice. A grocery store brand to try is Bertolli, which will save you money and make a delicious meal.
Pasta and sauce is a meal unto itself, but if you’d like to flesh out dinner with other items, consider adding:
- Polenta mix.
- Vegetables. We tend to think of Italian food as rich, comforting pastas and pizzas, but vegetables are much more important to the Italian diet. To encourage the eating of a salad, include a small jar of grapeseed oil, as well as the herbs required to make Italian salad dressing in a small food storage bag. Put a small decanter into the basket, along with directions for making the dressing.
It’s tempting to skip right to dessert, even with all the delicious foods you’ve assembled so far. Tiramisu is a popular Italian dessert, and you can find mixes in your grocery store to include in the basket. Oetker is a popular brand. For a ready-to-eat treat, try Delcetto Wafer Petites Tiramisu flavor. These are made with real cocoa and Sumatran coffee; they are bite-sized bits of rich Tiramisu heaven. If you can’t find them at your local store, try Amazon or another online vendor. Add a package of cappuccino mix, and you have a dessert worth savoring.
A bottle of wine makes a terrific complement to the Italian meal you’ve amassed. If you are giving your recipient a creamy Alfredo sauce, try a Pinot Noir or Pinot Blanc; if you have given a tomato sauce, try a Chianti or Zinfandel. You can find excellent wines right at your own grocery store, and they are priced very reasonably. Pick up a bottle, and your basket is just about complete.
You can, of course, put your Italian food selection into a basket, or you could try using a big colander. This will be useful in preparing the meal, and they can use it for years afterward. Include a spaghetti serving fork, and you have created a fabulous basket that is sure to make your recipient’s day. Buon appetito!