Chicken Cacciatore Formato Brothers Style

October 13th, 2015

Thanks to our wonderfully talented friend, Gary Marino, here’s a new version of Chicken Cacciatore, Formato Brothers Style

  • 8 chicken thighs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • ¼ cup of Kalamata Olives
  • 1 Bottle of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup of Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera


In a large pot, heat the oil over a medium-high flame.  Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and brown, in batches, for 5 minutes on each side. Transfer the chicken pieces to a bowl as they are done.


Remove the skin from the chicken, pour the fat off from the pan and discard.  (Short cut:  buy precooked chicken, remove the skin and cut it up.)


Turn the heat down to medium then add chopped garlic and cook until the garlic begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the wine and bring to a boil, then turn down the heat to low.

Add one bottle of tomato sauce

Add 1/2 cup Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera

Add ¼ cup of Kalamata Olives

Stir and simmer for 20 minutes.

Add cooked chicken to the sauce mixture.

Stir and simmer for 30 minutes to allow chicken to be flavored by the sauce mixture.  OMG……….the flavor is amazing if stored overnight in your refrigerator.

This classic Italian dish must have hundreds of versions, all resulting in a rustic braise of chicken, aromatic herbs and spices. “Some like it hot” my version uses Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera as the heat and flavor component.  If you prefer a milder sauce then I suggest using Formato Brothers Muffuletta as the flavor enhancer.


Gary Marino, Formato Friend & Chef Extraordinaire

Spicy Muffuletta & Pepper Jack Cheese Bread

September 10th, 2015

Bread 2 smaller size











Not like I need a reason to enjoy baking / eating bread; however, now that Fall is almost upon us, I’m going to use that as my excuse. I love that freshly-baked-warm-bread dipped in olive oil & balsamic vinegar any time of the year, but it seems especially extraordinary in the Fall months. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the cozy feeling snuggled up to the warm kitchen. There are many bread recipes floating around out there, but this is what I’ve found works the best.



  • 4 packets regular active dry yeast (or if you’re like me and have bought the small jar of yeast, it’s 9 tsps)
  • 1 C warm water (~110°)
  • 1 C warm milk (~110°)
  • 4 C Bread or All Purpose Flour
  • 1 C drained & chopped Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta
  • 1 C cubed spicy pepper jack cheese
  • 1 T salt
  • 2 T reserved Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta oil
  • 1 tsp sugar


Dissolve yeast in warm water in large bowl.  If you have a mixer with a hook attachment, you can use that.  If not, just use a large bowl and you will mix with your hands.  Mix/stir in milk, 4 C of flour, salt, drained & chopped Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta, 1T Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta reserved oil, cubed cheese, & sugar.  Add extra flour as needed to make sure dough is not sticky.  If using the mixer, dough is ready after adding enough flour that the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and is completely wrapped around the hook attachment (~6 min).  If kneading by hand, add enough flour so dough is springy and not sticky (~8 min).



Use the extra 1 T Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta reserved oil to lightly grease a separate bowl.  Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat all sides.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubles (~45 min).
























Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Gently push first into dough to deflate and pat dough into 14X10” rectangle on lightly floured surface.  Roll up tightly, beginning at 10-in side.  Place seam side down on cookie sheet.  Cover and let rise in warm place (~30min).












Heat oven to 450°.  Make 3 slashes, about ¼” deep, across loaf.  Bake 35 min or until loaf is golden and sounds hollow when tapped.  If using an electring thermometer, the internal temperature should read just over 200°.  Remove from cookie sheet and cool on wire rack.



You’ll find that you’ll have a little extra Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta left over, as we are not using the entire jar in the bread recipe (unless, of course, you want to!!!)  So my dad always taught me, “Waste not, want not.”  Oh wait, or was that Benjamin Franklin?  As I started early in the morning making this bread, I was getting a little hungry while waiting for it to bake.  So, I decided to whip up a healthy egg white omelet.












I diced some ham, threw it in a non-stick pan, added some egg whites, and topped it all off with the remaining Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta.  I diced some cherry tomatoes I found lying around and added them as a side to my omelet.  It turned out fresh and delicious!













After the bread finished cooling, I sliced a few pieces and enjoyed with an Italian coffee.  You don’t need Fall to enjoy a delicious loaf of freshly baked home made bread, so use this recipe any time of the year!  Plus, you’ll feel better about baking bread using quality ingredients that are good for you and your family.  I’d love to see what you created using this bread – be it sliced alone with coffee, or toasted with butter as my brother likes to make.

Take a pic and post it to our Formato Brothers Facebook page!   We love learning from YOU as well!

–Andrea Formato Castner

Pagliacci Italian Seasoning

April 13th, 2015


Pagliacci seasoning 1

Being Italian is awesome.  I love all the various types of cuisine from the different regions of Italy.  Some days I’m a marinara type of gal, & some days I want to snuggle with a creamy bowl of Alfredo.  however, on certain occasions, I do love a gold, old-fashioned American cheeseburger.  As to not make my inner Italian jealous, I’ve combined the best of both worlds to create a healthy variation on an American classic.  Here’s what I use:

  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2 cloves (or more) roasted garlic *
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 T Worchestershire sauce
  • 1 T Pagliacci Italian Seasoning

* To roast garlic:  take a head of garlic & carefully cut off the tops of all the garlic bulbs, keeping them all in tact.  Wrap in aluminum foil & drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the top.  Cover with foil & bake at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes.  Let the garlic cool completely & squeeze the garlic out of the bulbs.  If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, 1 T of garlic powder will do just fine.

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.  Note that I did not use salt or pepper in my ingredients.  The park cheese intrinsically has enough salt, & the Pagliacci Italian Seasoning has everything else I neeed!  Form into 4 patties.

Spray your grill, indoor or outdoor, w/ non-stick spray & turn the heat to medium high.

Cook the patties on the grill for about 5 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 1654 degrees F.

Grab a few buns & toast if you like.

Place patties on the toasted buns & add your favorite toppings.  I like freely cut tomato, basil & a slice or two of mozzarella.  If you’re feeling spicy, add 1 T Formato Brothers Spicy Pepper Spread.

This burger was health enough that I didn’t feel like I needed to hit the gym right away, & Italian enough so I didn’t feel like I was cheating on my heritage.  My only dilemma now is deciding which beer should accompany my burger:  domestic or imported?  : )


–Andrea Formato Castner


Pagliacci seasoning 3


Pagliacci seasoning 2


Pagliacci seasoning 6

Turkey Meatballs Sunday Night Dinner

October 24th, 2014

Sunday Night Dinner (Turkey Meatballs)

If you’re like me, Sunday night is family night. It’s a time to settle down after a weekend filled with soccer and other nonstop kid-stuff. It’s a time to get together with family & friends and to be thankful for a wonderful Saturday and Sunday and look ahead to what the week holds before us. And Sunday night is definitely a time to enjoy a home cooked pasta dinner! My kids love being Italian and are always begging me to make my “famous” turkey meatballs with pasta. How can I refuse?FB Blog pagliacci sauce fabienelli pasta 1

This recipe is so simple and yet is bursting with flavor. You probably already have all the ingredients in your pantry and fridge:

  • 1 lb ground lean turkey breast*
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbsp Worcestershire
  • ¼ C Italian breadcrumbs
  • ¼ C Grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbsp Italian herbs seasoning
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

*Take out ground turkey breast about 30 min before you start making the meatballs. The turkey is easier to handle at room temperature; plus, you should cook meat straight out of the fridge.

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Preheat oven to 350º F & line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until they are fully incorporated. Divide the meat into whatever size meatballs you prefer. I try to get about 12 meatballs from this recipe.

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In a large saucepan, heat 2 Tbsp of canola oil. When oil is hot (drop a tiny bit of breadcrumbs in the oil – it should sizzle up), place half the meatballs in the oil and fry on all sides for about 5-7 minutes until evenly browned. Place on a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Repeat this process with the remaining meatballs.

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Place all meatballs on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 min or until the internal temperature of the meatballs reach 165º F.

I like to serve my meatballs with Formato Brothers Fabianelli Elbows Pasta & Pagliacci Roasted Garlic Sauce. Cook pasta & sauce according to directions on package. When pasta is done cooking, place pasta & sauce in a bowl and top with the meatballs. Add some parsley flakes for color, and enjoy!

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Kids aren’t the only ones who are grateful for being Italian! The good news is – even if you aren’t Italian, thanks to Formato Brothers, you can cook like an Italian! Enjoy your special Sunday nights, too!


–Andrea Formato Castner

Vigo Jambalaya Cajun Rice Mix

October 6th, 2014


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Vigo Jambalaya Cajun Rice Mix

October 2014

Every year, the hubby & I visit New Orleans for our anniversary. It is a fun-filled week of listening to live Jazz & Zydeco bands on Frenchmen Street as well as visiting the local historical eating establishments sprinkled throughout the French Quarter. While we enjoying sampling all the food NOLA has to offer, there is one traditional dish I just can’t get enough of — JAMBALAYA! I love the mixture of Cajun spices, dirty rice, and shrimp all prepared harmoniously in one big bowl. My only problem is that before we know it, our vacation is over, and we must return to our daily lives.

Thanks to Formato Brothers, I don’t have to wait one year to visit NOLA and get my fill of jambalaya. Instead, I can easily whip up this spicy dish in the comfort of my own kitchen. It is so easy! I just followed the directions on the back of the Jambalaya Cajun Rice Mix package (which is essentially: boil water, add butter & shrimp, add Jambalaya Cajun Rice Mix, stir, and simmer for 25 min). If you are allergic to shellfish, don’t worry. You can add precooked bite-sized ham or sausage instead of the shrimp*.

Now my only problem is saving some Jambalaya for the family!

*Quick note about using shrimp. I used frozen shrimp that I first thawed under cold water as directed on the shrimp bag. I elected to keep the shrimp tails on because that adds extra flavor. Be careful as little pieces of tail might break off while thawing. I added the thawed shrimp by hand (instead of dumping the bowl) so those broken shrimp tails didn’t fall in my pot.


–Andrea Formato Castner

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce Pizza # 2 – Kristen’s recipe

June 23rd, 2014




Here’s another great pizza recipe using Pastorelli Pizza Sauce.  Many thanks to our friend Kristen Clements Mackey in Texas.

One package pillsbury pizza crust
One can of Pastorelli pizza sauce
Fresh buffalo mozzarella
Shredded kraft mozzarella
Fresh basil
Roma tomato
Sautéed mushrooms in tablespoon of butter and fresh chopped garlic
Assemble as desired and bake!

Soooo easy & soooo good!

Thank you, Kristen!

Pizza Kristen 2014

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce Pizza # 1

June 22nd, 2014
Pastorelli Pizza Sauce

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce




















Pillsbury pizza dough – regular, not thin
Cherry tomatoes, cut in half
Minced garlic – store bought works great – 1 teaspoon is enough
Some fennel seeds – crush
Italian sausage – remove from casings – try sweet or spicy or hot for variety
Grated mozzarella
Grated or shaved Pecorino Parmesan cheese
Fresh basil leaves


Prepare dough as instructed on package.
Heat oil in large skillet, then tomatoes, sprinkle w/ salt as desired, saute until charred & start to break down.
Put tomatoes in a large bowl, add garlic & fennel & mix.  Crush tomatoes in large bowl.  Leave some large pieces.
Form little balls of sausage & position on top of the pizza.
Mix grated cheeses & some chopped fresh basil leaves in a separate bowl.
Sprinkle cheeses over dough.
Add tomato mixture unevenly across the dough.
Bake about 25 minutes, or less depending on your oven.
Remove from oven & top w/ basil leaves.

Cool slightly then cut as desired.  We use a rectangular shaped cookie sheet w/ sides to make this.


Note:  I found a recipe for Cherry Tomato Pizza Margherita in Bon Appetit magazine a few years ago & adapted it to fit our family’s tastes.


Sweet and Caffeinated On The Go!

January 31st, 2014

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I always try my best to carve out coffee time every day.  I love waking up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee waiting for me downstairs each morning.  As well, I enjoy that 2:00 PM caffeinated pick me up alongside some sort of sweet treat.  However, some days I just can’t quite make it to the 2:00 PM ritual…usually because work scheduled an impromptu meeting or there’s suddenly a phone call that must be made.

Thanks to Formato Brothers I don’t have to be deprived of my caffeine & sweet tooth fixes when I’m running out of time.  Instead I just reach for Bali’s Best Espresso & Latte Candies.  These tiny candies are the perfect travel companions.  I can easily house a handful in my purse for those on the go moments.  Bali’s Best Espresso & Latte Candies use real coffee, so I know I’m not missing out on the good stuff.  When I pop one in my mouth I can instantly taste the coffee in the sweet hard shell.  But this delectable experience doesn’t stop there.  After a few minutes there is a nice surprise in the middle:  more melted coffee!  The best part is that 4 pieces equals only about 60 calories.

My coworkers thank you, Formato Brothers….so do I.

–Andrea Formato Castner

Casa Giulia Jam Raspberry Bars

August 26th, 2013
Andrea & Heather w/ dessert bars at a recent birthday party.

Andrea & Heather w/ dessert bars at a recent birthday party.



Andrea & Heather w/ dessert bars at a recent birthday party.



Earlier this month, I was invited to a 70th birthday party for my best friend’s mom.  I was told I didn’t need to bring anything, but my parents taught me never to go to anyone’s house empty-handed.  So, I needed to find the perfect special recipe for this special occasion.  What says love better than dessert?!


Thanks to the wide variety of Formato Brothers Casa Giulia Jams, I was able to pick the perfect flavor for my fruit bars dessert.  I decided to go with Raspberry, but you could pick whatever fruit you prefer.




  • 2 ¼ C all-purpose sifted flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1 C butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • ½ tsp almond extract
  • ¼ C Casa Giulia Jam – your choice of flavor




  1. Preheat oven to 350˚F; spray an 8” square baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the brown sugar and butter until fluffy; beat in the egg and almond extract.  With the mixer on low speed, gradually beat in the flour mixture until blended.  Scrape the batter into the pan, smoothing the surface with a rubber spatula.  Spoon the Casa Giulia Jam over the batter smoothly and evenly.
  4. Bake until lightly browned, 25-30 minutes.  Cool completely on a rack.


My best friend Heather and her mom (and everyone else at the party) loved this!  It was so chewy and we didn’t even feel guilty about eating it because of the delicious fruit jam!  I can’t wait to make this again; my only dilemma is:  which Casa Giulia Jam do I choose next?!


–Andrea Formato Castner

Quick Pizza

May 17th, 2013

This is such an easy pizza to prepare.  It is quick if you use ready-made dough, or a little slower if you make your own.  We are always in a hurry so the quick way is the best sometimes for the Formato household.

Quick Pizza


Pastorelli Pizza Sauce

Pastorelli Pizza Sauce

Use olive oil spray or canola oil spray & spray a 10″ x 15″ rectangular pan.

Prepare pizza dough (I love to use a Pillsbury thin crust dough in a can).  This means to spread it out to fit the pan, you shouldn’t have to go up the sides w/ the dough.  It should fit nicely in this size baking pan.

Pour pizza sauce over it (here’s where you use the Pastorelli brand, which by the way, is delicious). 1 can can be used for 2 pizzas.

Sprinkle w/ shredded mozzarella cheese.

Add little balls of sausage (make it easy on yourself, remove casing from Italian sausage & form round pieces;  we like Johnsonville Italian sausage which comes in Mild or Hot).

Chop up some green peppers & sprinkle on top.

Bake for about 10 minutes or according to the package directions.  Cut into little squares & serve.

You can add more cheese before baking.

You can freeze & then add cheese before baking.

Usually there’s not much left every time this is served.

Hope you enjoy this!

Formato Brothers Caliente Olive Spread

May 4th, 2013

Caliente Hot Pepper Spred Mix Marino













1/3 bottle Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
1 cup roughly chopped Kalamata olives
1 cup roughly chopped stuffed green olives
1 cup roughly chopped artichoke hearts
1/3 cup good olive oil

Drain olives & artichokes before chopping.

Mix together in a glass bowl, cover, refrigerate over night.  Serve w/ rustic baquette cut into pieces.

Many thanks to our wonderful friend Gary Marino for his ongoing recipes using Formato Brothers products.  Keep ‘em coming, Gary Boy!

Bruschetta a la Formato

April 1st, 2013




1/2 bottle Formato Brothers Mild Pepper Spread, drained

1 generous Tbsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread, drained

1 medium tomato, diced

1/4 lb Buffalo Mozzarella cheese, diced

That’s it!  4 ingredients….you can make this quickly,,,try it!

Spread EVOO on cut up bread pieces (1 1/2″ square), then toast in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.

Mix first 4 ingredients & spread on toasted bread pieces.  REturn to oven for about 10 minutes more until cheese has melted.

Buon Appetito!

St. Patty’s Day Irish Cream Coffee

March 3rd, 2013

Cafe D'Vita Irish Cream Coffe and cookies 2013

Well, if you can believe it, we’re already in to the month of March.  To help our Irish friends celebrate their biggest party of the year, Formato Brothers has decided to Go Green with Caffe D’Vita Irish Cream Cappuccino.  This drink is a great way to kick off your St. Patty’s Day, or any day of the year, with its sweet Irish Cream flavor.  The best part is that since this is an instant drink, you don’t have to wait forever to brew the coffee.  Just scoop the coffee mix in your mug (the directions call for 3 tsp, but I prefer 5 tsp for extra sweetness!), add 5 oz hot water, stir, and enjoy!

If it’s too hot where you’re celebrating, don’t worry – pour some milk or water in a blender, add the coffee mix & a few ice cubes, and blend away to create a frothy cool shake!

Either way, I prefer my Caffe D’Vita Irish Cream Cappuccino with a side of sweet treats.


–Andrea Formato Castner

Goat Cheese Stuffed Spicy Meatballs

January 31st, 2013

Here’s another exciting & very tasty recipe for spicy meatballs.

4 lb 80/20 ground beef
2 lb pork sausage
3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
2 tsp salt
2 tsp pepper
2 tsp dired basil
2 tsp dried oregano
5 cloves garlic, peeled & chopped
2 eggs
2 tsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain excess oil)
5 oz goat cheese for stuffing into meatballs once they are thoroughly mixed

Mix all ingredients together.  Use your hands….it’s therapeutic.  : )

Roll about 2 Tblsp into palm of hand, with your thumb press down to create a space to accommodate 1/2 tsp of goat cheese.  Use a small measuring spoon to be consistent.

Place on a rack on a baking sheet in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for 25 minutes until brown.

Or….fry in canola or vegetable oil at 360 degrees turning over after a minute or so until brown.  Then place on a metal rack to drain off excess oil.














–Carl Formato



Casa Giulia Orange Jam: Unexpected Guests

January 26th, 2013











One of the great things I love about living so close to my family & friends is that I get to see them almost every weekend.  It’s so great to plan our special weekends, which always include delicious Italian food.  However, every now & then at lunchtime I get that unexpected knock at the door with a group of people behind it asking, “What’cha cooking for lunch?”

No problem…I got this.  “Come on in!”  Lucky for me, my kitchen is stocked with the essentials:  a loaf of Italian bread on the counter, ricotta cheese in the fridge, & a few jars of Casa Giulia Orange Jam & Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread in the pantry.

First step is to get some app’s out right away.  I decide to make some Casa Giulia Orange Bruschetta:

  1. Slice the loaf of bread in to one inch slices, lightly butter, grill on your indoor or outdoor grill, approx 2 minutes on each side.
  2. Take the bread off the grill & then spread approx 1 Tablespoon of ricotta cheese (any kind is fine, I prefer Part Skim) on each slice.
  3. Top each slice with 1 Tablespoon of Casa Giulia Orange Jam, garnish with a basil leaf, serve to your guests!


Meanwhile, I happened to be cooking some chicken breasts on the grill before my unexpected guests arrived.  Perfect!  All I needed to do is whip up a nice sweet & spicy dipping sauce for my grilled chicken.

  1. On the stove, in a small saucepan, warm 2 Tablespoons (not drained) of Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread on medium heat.
  2. Add an entire jar of Casa Guilia Orange Jam to the saucepan.
  3. Add 1 Tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice & salt to taste, if desired.
  4. Stir for 5 minutes until all ingredients are mixed.
  5. Serve as a dipping sauce for the chicken.


It doesn’t matter if you’re planning a special get-together or if you have unexpected guests arrive on a Saturday afternoon, as long as your kitchen is stocked with Casa Giulia Orange Jam  & Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread, you’ll be able to accommodate anyone!

Buon Appetito!

–Andrea Formato Castner

Pepper Poppers

December 2nd, 2012








Such an easy appetizer or snack with 3 ingredients:

Sweet Mini Peppers
Ready made artichoke & jalapeño cream cheese dip
Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread

Mix 1/2 tsp of Hot Pepper Spread (drain oil) into 1 1/2 cups dip.
Spoon into sliced, cleaned peppers.

Other filling suggestions:  Cream cheese & Hot Pepper Spread; another flavor of prepared cream cheese spread, chopped crabmeat spread, your choice.

Picture shows pepper poppers with blackberries, the flavors blend beautifully!

Italian Panettone French Toast

November 26th, 2012

A variation on a breakfast classic from Cooking In The Kitchen With Carl.

You will need:
1 Two lb. box of Sweet Angels Panettone Specialty Cake
3 eggs
Powdered sugar
Casa Giulia Raspberry jam (or any other flavor you prefer)

Here’s what you do:
Cut Panettone into 1/2 inch slice across entire cake (cutting the cake in half down the middle gives you the largest slice).

Cut slice into 4 pieces.

Beat 3 eggs, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Dip slices of cake into eggs to cover each side. Drain off excess egg.

Heat griddle to med-high heat and cook toast about 1 minute on each side.

Take 3 tblspn of Casa Giulia jam and place in small bowl and heat in
microwave for 30-40 seconds to warm jam.

Sprinkle powered sugar through sifter onto toast and spread some jam on top.

Delicioso !!!!!

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

November 22nd, 2012

5-7 Sweet Potatoes
(ok, you may use yams if you want the traditional orangey autumnal color)
5 tsp butter
5 tsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (include the oil)
1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Trim off the ends to make the process easy for yourself, then peel the sweet potatoes, then cut into small pieces (but not too small).

Steam the pieces/chunks/cubes (or whatever you want to call them) for a few minutes
(but don’t let the water burn under them….been there…done that).

Drain, mash, add butter & Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread.

Ta Da!  Serve warm.  That’s it!  Enjoy!

A very autumnal dish….and yummy.  Buon Appetito!

Falling For Soup

October 26th, 2012

Welcome Fall!  Finally I can revisit my closet & start trading my tank tops & shorts for cozy sweaters & jeans.  The cool nights invite me to snuggle up with the kiddos on the couch, hide under a blanket, & only pop up every now & then to take a few slurps of the perfect fall dinner choice:  soup.

Thanks to Formato Brothers I can have an Italian hearty meal in less than 15 minutes.  Formato Brothers carries a variety of Alessi Traditional Soup Mixes such as Sicilian Lentil, Neopolitan Bean, Chicken Noodle, but my favorite is the Zuppa Toscana (Tuscan White Bean Soup).  It’s so easy to make — literally boil some water, stir in the package of soup mix, simmer for 12 minutes…you’re done!  As soon as I opened the package essences of garlic, herbs & white beans filled my kitchen.  The best part was that I had a creamy, filling dinner in only 12 minutes.  If you’d like a little something to go with your favorite soup, pair it with Alessi Grissin Torinesi rosemary Breadsticks also available on

If you’re like me, you value every free second you have to spend time with your family or….revisiting your closet!  Buon Appetito!

–Andrea Formato Castner


Fra Diavalo Parmesan Stuffed Eggplant

October 16th, 2012

10 baby eggplant
2 tblsp extra virgin olive oil
1 bottle marinara sauce 25 oz.
1 cup bread crumbs
1 cup grated Parmesan
3 tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain excess oil)

  1. Wash and dry eggplant.  Cut off both ends.  Slice 5 slits in each baby eggplant.  Do not cut completely through the eggplant.
  2. Pour evoo onto each cut.
  3. Place in aluminum foil pan and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes.  Let cool.
  4. Mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese together.
  5. Place mixture between each cut of eggplant.
  6. Place several tblsp of sauce on bottom of 8 inch aluminum foil pan or oven proof serving dish.
  7. Place stuffed eggplant in each pan.
  8. Sprinkle Hot Pepper Spread on top of each eggplant.
  9. Sprinkle some additional Parmesan cheese on top of eggplant ( to taste).
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 300 degrees.

Mangia bene.

Papa Carl’s Eggplant Parmesan

July 28th, 2012

3 large eggplant
Pagliacci marinara sauce
Pagliacci grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt in a grinder
pepper in a grinder
Pagliacci dried oregano leaves (do not use fresh)
Pagliacci dried basil leaves (do not use fresh)
goat cheese
aluminum pans (round or square)

Rinse eggplant under cold water, then dry w/ paper towels.
Slice 1/8″ thick (thicker slices produce a different taste; I like to use very thin slices for this recipe).
Heat non-stick pancake griddle or frying pan; needs to be very hot.
Do not spray w/ anything.
Cook slices about 2 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.
Remove slices from pan, place on a dish for a few moments.

Put 2 Tblsp marinara sauce in each pan, spread evenly over bottom.
Place 1 layer of sliced eggplant over sauce.
Lightly sprinkle dried oregano over the slices.
Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the oregano.

Add 3 Tblsp marinara sauce.
Place 1 layer of sliced eggplant over sauce.
Lightly sprinkle dried basil over the slices.
Add several turns of the pepper mill over the slices.
Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the basil & pepper.

Add 2 – 3 Tblsp marinara sauce.
Place a third layer of eggplant slices over the sauce.
Add several turns of the sea salt

Add 2 -3 Tblsp marinara sauce, filling in the gaps where needed.
Abundantly sprinkle Parmesan cheese to cover.
Break up goat cheese & position several dollops on top of Parmesan cheese.

Add a Tblsp EVOO over the top.

Bake 350 degrees for 40 minutes or freeze for another day.  Delicioso!

Buon Appetito!



Welcome Spicy Summer!

July 10th, 2012

If you’re like me, the summer months are a time for celebrating special events & spending quality time with family and friends.  I can remember grilling outside with my family as a young girl, and now that I’m a mom, it’s my responsibility to keep the tradition alive.

For my grilling choice, I like to make Formato Brothers Spicy Turkey Burgers (unfortunately, I don’t have the same metabolism as I did as a young girl).  If you prefer to use regular hamburger meat, go ahead!

Here’s what I use:

1 beaten egg
1 Tbslp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (oil included; feel free to up the amount to 2 Tblsp if you’re feeling extra spicy)
2 Tblsp Italian breadcrumbs
1 Tblsp minced garlic
2 Tblsp Parmesan cheese
1 lb ground turkey breast

Mix all ingredients and form into 4 patties.  Grill on medium heat for about 4 minutes on each side until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees F.

Place on a bun or your favorite bread roll and add all the topping you choose.

Make your summer a Spicy Summer … one that your family will remember for years to come.

Buon Appetito!

– Andrea Formato Castner


May 29th, 2012

I love pasta.  I could eat it every day.  In fact, some weeks, I think I actually do eat it every day.  While sticking to a daily routine is comfy & easy, sometimes you need to switch it up a bit.  Here’s the question:  What other delicious Italian starchy side could accompany my chicken or fish dinner?  Got it:  Risotto.

Here’s my problem…risotto takes for EVER to make.  First you have to cut & prep all the onions & veggies, brown them, add the rice, add the stock, stir consistently, & here’s the kicker..never step away from the pan!  Trust me, if I had time, I’d love to revisit my risotto cooking lesson with Papa (and…yes…I’ll keep the rice flat) & spend 40 minutes making risotto every night.  However, being a working mom, time isn’t always on my side.  I need a faster way to swap out my side dish.

Thanks to Formato Brothers, I’m able to trade my pasta for yummy risotto & still keep to my after-work/school schedule with the kids.  Since we’re heading into the summer months, my go-to selection is Vigo Italian Style Risotto Primavera.  It’s so easy to make:  just boil water, add some butter, stir in risotto contents, cover, simmer, step away!

It’s always challenging to break away from a normal routine, but if you’re looking to change up your Italian side dish, but don’t have a lot of time, try Formato Brothers’ Vigo Italian Style Risotto Primavera.

–Anadrea Formato Castner


Peach Tart

May 1st, 2012











For the dough:

1  1/2 cup flour
2  Tblsp confectioners sugar
1  Stick butter
1/4  Tsp salt
4  Tblsp cold water

Pulse flour, sugar, salt in food processor 10-12 pulses.  Add cold butter (chopped into small pieces).  Add water one Tblsp at a time after pulsing.

Roll dough into ball then flatten into a 12-14″ round.  Cover with wax paper or plastic wrap.  Put dough round in refrigerator for 15 minutes to set up.

For the filling:

3 cups sliced peaches (leave skin on)  We used very small peaches for this recipe.
3/4 cup sugar
1 Tsp cinnamon
1 Tsp fresh lemon juice
3 Tblspn Casa Giulia Apricot Jam (for spreading on dough)  Note:  other jam flavors will work as well.

Place peaches, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice into glass bowl.  Mix gently together using 2 spoons.

Heat oven to 375 degrees.


Place dough round on parchment paper, lightly floured.
Spread 3 Tblsp jam over dough.
Spread peach filling mixture onto dough.  Use mostly peaches, save juice for spreading on top of the dough.
Fold one inch of dough back toward center, framing the filling.
Spread reserved juices over edges of dough.

Bake for 45 minutes or until dough becomes brown.
Place on wire rack to cool.

Serve warm, vanilla ice cream would be a plus for this treat.

Buon Appetito!

















Return to the Muffuletta

April 24th, 2012

Our Formato Family Blogger, Andrea’s visit to N’Awlins:

A few months back I wrote about Formato Brothers’ delicious Muffuletta Olive Salad and mentioned I was going to the birthplace of the infamous sammy:  New Orleans.  So as promised, I have returned from my visit and would like to share some pics with my amici!

The hubby I love and I stopped by The Central Grocery Store on Decatur Street in the French Quarter.  Before we even stepped inside, the Store seemed to be calling us in with its colorful window display of Italian food products.  We stepped inside immediately to a line of people waiting to get their Muffulettas.  Luckily, we got there there at the perfect time, 11:00 AM, because the line was out the door by the time we left.

The Store smelled of fresh meats, cheeses, garlic, and bread.  My mouth was literally watering as I waited for my turn.  I finally got to the counter, picked up some spices for mom and dad along the way, and ordered the half-sandwich and a Peroni (clearly)…

The Muffuletta was as delicious as I imagined.  The olives and oil were fresh and complimented the meat and cheese perfectly.  The ambiance was an Italian dream come true.  I felt like I was back in my Grandmother Formato’s house with all my relatives cooking, eating, drinking and shouting over one another to be heard.

If you’re ever in New Orleans LA stop in The Central Grocery and grab a Muffuletta for yourself and taste a little history.  But in the meantime, create your own version using Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Salad!

–Andrea Formato Castner






Formato Brothers Hot Eggplant & Sausage Lasagna

April 16th, 2012

Here’s an incredibly tasty, slightly spicy, delicious lasagna dish created by Chef Gary, using Formato Brothers Hot Eggplant Salad.


  • 9 pieces lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp Antica Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 7 Italian sausages, cut the casing & remove
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jar marinara sauce (24 oz)
  • 1 bottle Formato Brothers Hot Eggplant Salad (16 oz)
  • 3 cups ricotta cheese
  • 4 cups mozarella cheese, shredded
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Cook pasta until al dente.  Drain, lightly oil & set aside.

In a medium saucepan, saute the sausage in olive oil, until no longer pink.  Remove cooked sausage from the sauce pan & spoon off excess oil, discard.

Add Formato Brothers Hot Eggplant Salad & garlic to the sauce pan, sauteing for another 4 minutes until the mixture is cooked through.

Add marinara sauce to the mixture & set aside.

In a medium bowl blend ricotta cheese & 1/4 cup of the grated parmesan cheese; set aside.

Coat a 9×14″ baking dish with olive oil & spread 1 cup of the sauce mixture on the bottom.

Top with 3 lasagna noodles.  Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture on the noodles & layer on 1 cup of the sauce mixture.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup mozzarella chees over this along with one cut cut up cooked sausage.  Repeat this process two more times, starting with the noodles & finishing with the remaining 1/4 cup of grated Parmesan cheese.

Place a layer of the remaining four cooked up cut up sausages across the top of the lasagna & then sprinkle with oregano and basil, then cover with shredded mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 45 minutes until hot & bubbly in a preheated 350 degree oven.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.


From Chef Gary Marino, one of our favorite inventive Italian friends.  Always thinking of new ways to use Formato Brothers products!!!  Grazie, Chef Gary!




Spicy Omelette

April 14th, 2012




2 eggs, steak, mozzarella cheese chopped,
Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread, chopped red & green peppers,
salt, pepper


Steak Stuffed Mushrooms

April 9th, 2012











Dice 2 lbs cooked steak (ok to use leftovers from last nite’s dinner).
Remove stems from 50-60 large white mushrooms, then chop into small pieces.
Spray mushroom caps w/ butter spray.
Finely dice 5 cloves garlic.
In a heated frying pan add 3 Tblsp EVOO.
Saute mushrooms stems until soft.
Add chopped garlic.
Add diced meat.
Add 1/2 tsp sea salt.
Add 1/2 tsp pepper.
Add 1/4 cup Cabernet Sauvignon.
Cook about 5 mintues.
Stuff mushrooms.
Bake 15-18 minutes.
Sprinkle w/ parmigiano reggiano shredded cheese & serve w/ Cabernet Sauvignon or any other wine you like.

This can be frozen for a couple months, but why save this delicious appetizer or main dish?  Enjoy!

Options:  add finely chopped Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad or Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Salad for a unique tasting dish.


Hot Pepper Spread Meatballs With Parmigiano Reggiano

April 5th, 2012

3 lb lean ground beef
1 lb pork sausage
1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, grated
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
2 eggs, stirred
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper1/4 cup chopped white onions
2 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drained of oil)

Mix thoroughly by hand.
Roll into tennis ball size meatballs.
Spray grill on cookie tray with canola oil.
Bake in 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Buon Appetito!

Can be frozen.



March 29th, 2012

Andrea Formato Castner

Ok, so I have a confession to make:  I’m a snacker.  In case you haven’t noticed, I love food.  And as much as I love my 3 square meals a day, I equally love snacking in between those meals as well.  If you’re like me, you like to snack but don’t want to feel guilty about it.  Right?  Right.

Luckily, Formato Brothers has an assortment of Grissini Breadsticks (Thin, Sesame, Garlic or Rosemary) to help me get through the day.  My fav is the Rosemary Breadsticks made with Alessi Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Deciding how to snack on the Breadsticks is like a painter looking at a blanki canvas:  the possibilities are only limited to your own imagination.  I could just kick it old school by dipping the breadsticks in a disk of Antica Italia Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar, but what I really love to do is wrap it up!

Here’s a list of simple staples you’ll probably already have in your Italian kitchen that you can use for your wrap:

Grissini Breadsticks (your choice of flavor from Formato Brothers website)
Deli Slices of Provolone Cheese (Formato Brothers offers this as well)
Deli Slices of Italian Salami or Prosciuttio (from the Home Page click on meats for selections)

Take one slice of cheese & one slice of meat & wrap it around your choice of breadstick.  It’s that easy.  If you’re feeling spicy, dip your wrap in a side Formato Brothers Hot Eggplant Salad or Hot Pepper Spread.

Snack away!

–Andrea Formato Castner

Spicy Cauliflower With Garlic

February 11th, 2012

1.  Heat frying pan.
2.  Add 1 Tblsp Antica Italia EVOO.
3.  Add 2 cloves chopped garlic.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste (Carl used 1/4 tsp each).
5. Add 2 Tblsp water.
6. Add 1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain first).
7. Cover & heat.  Not too long.

Looks good, tastes good!

Spicy Broccoli With Garlic

February 11th, 2012

1.  Heat frying pan.
2. Add 1 Tblsp Antica Italia EVOO.
3. Add 2 cloves chopped garlic.
4.Add salt and pepper to taste (Carl used 1/4 tsp each).
5. Add 2 Tblsp water.
6.Add 1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain first).
7.Cover & steam for awhile.

Spicy Green Beans With Garlic

February 11th, 2012

1.   Heat frying pan.
2.  Add 1 Tblsp Antica Italia EVOO.
3.  Add 2 cloves chopped garlic.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste (Carl used 1/4 tsp each).
5.  Add 2 Tblsp water.
6. Add 1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain first).
7. Cover, cook for awhile to create steamed effect.

Ta Da!

Valentine’s Day 2012

February 10th, 2012

The following was written by a Formato Family member, Andrea.

I’ll never forget my first Valentine’s Day memory:  6th grade, Dallas, Texas.  There was a really cute boy in my class and I had the biggest crush:  Chris.  He was blonde and CUTE.  Unfortunately, the week of Valentine’s Day I got the flu, was super sick, and had to stay home from school all week.  It was 2/14 (sometime in the 80″s) and I was lying on the couch feeling less than Valentinesy.  Around 6:00 pm the doorbell rang.  My mom came over and said, “Andrea, you have a special visitor.”  It was Chris at the door!  Clearly his mom was waiting in the car.

Chris:  “I know you weren’t at school today because you were sick, but I wanted to bring this box of chocolates and tell you Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Andrea:  (Speechless)……

Are you kidding me?  I looked horrible and he was so sweet.  I said, “Thank you,” told him I’d see him at school next week, took the chocolates (sick or not, chocolates are chocolates!), and closed the door.  I was so frustrated that I wasn’t prepared for my surprise visit, but my dad reassured me I’d have many more Valentine’s Days to look perfectly perfect.

Happy Valentine’s Day to everyone out there who was ready for their Valentine or was just slightly off with the timing.

–Andrea Formato Castner

By the way, Andrea’s grown up, a working business woman who still likes chocolates, and who still can be surprised.

Spicy Goat Cheese Meatballs

February 8th, 2012



1.5 lb ground beef (use lean)
1 lb hot Italian sausage
1/2 lb goat cheese
1 cup garlic/herb Italian bread crumbs
4 cloves garlic (chop into small pieces)
2 large eggs
1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain first)
1 Tblsp oregano leaves (dried)
1 Tblsp basil leaves (dried)
salt – add as needed
pepper  – add as needed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix all items together.

Place on wire racks over a cookie sheet.  Bake for 22 minutes.

Can be frozen for impromptu parties.

New Orleans Muffuletta

February 1st, 2012

Ok, so Mardi Gras is just around the corner, February 21st, and if you know me, you know I’m preparing for the feast day commonly known as Fat Tuesday!  You might also know that Mardi Gras is also known as Fat Tuesday, but, did you also know that one of the great delicacies of Mardi Gras is the Muffuletta Sandwich?  And, you guessed it, the greatest American city to celebrate Mardi Gras is home to this deliciousness:  New Orleans!

And, if you’re like me, you’re brave enough to visit Naw’Leans, but not brave enough to actually visit during Mardi Gras.

Thanks to Formato Brothers, I don’t need to travel farther than my kitchen cupboard to enjoy the taste of Mardi Gras all year long!  So according to legend, the Muffuletta sandiwch originated at the Central Grocery in New Orleans back on Decatur Street in early 1906.  The true sandwich starts with a 10″ round loaf of Italian bread filled with all the Italian fillings you can imagine:  salami, cheese, ham, and most importantly, olive salad — and, oh, by the way, NEVER heat or toast the sandwich!!!  It must be served at room temp or you’ll be disowned by the family.

And, this is the easiest recipe ever:  just all all ingredients til your heart’s content!

Here’s how I would create my Formato Brothers Muffuletta (layer each item):

1 – 10″ round Italian bread (if you can’t find round bread, just use regular Italian), cut into the top and bottom
6 oz sliced provolone cheese
6 oz sliced salami
6 oz sliced Italian ham
4 Tablespoons of Formato Brothers Muffuletta Spread (regular or Hot will work)

Cut sandwich into quarters, serve, enjoy!

Ok, so one more thing:  I’m actually going to New Orleans in a few months (like I said, not brave enough to actually go during Mardi Gras), but, I’m going to track down and visit the original Central Grocery on Decatur Street and post the pics on Facebook (

If you “like” the picture, then go ahead and  “like” the Facebook page (  Look for the $5.00 discount code available there.

Click on Recipes for Chicken Muffuletta Sandwich, Crispy Muffuletta Raviolis, Meatless Eggplant Meatballs made with Muffuletta Olive Salad.  Come back to our Blog page for a New Orleans update once Andrea returns from her trip there.

–Andrea Formato Castner

Spicy Chicago Memories

January 15th, 2012

It’s been along time since I lived in Chicago, and a lot has changed over the years.  However, one thing I know has not changed is the city’s love for beef sandwiches and hot giardiniera.  Ever time I step off the plane back in the Windy City, my stomach’s internal radar sounds off — it knows we’re back home and we have to go to the nearest beef stand immediately for a sammy and some spicy fixins.

Of course, back in Cali, I could try and make my own hot giardiniera, but I’d be spending hours chopping carrots, olives, peppers, caluiflower and cooking them up in oil with spices.  So why would I waste my time when Formato Brothers has already created a delicious Chicago tradition, homemade and hand-packed in my home town for over 30 years?

I love saving time cooking to focus on the more important action: eating.  My toughest decision is what should I put the hot giardiniera on?  So many tempting choices:  hot dogs, sausages, beef sandwiches, meatballs, pizza, and my new favorite:  Scrambled Egg Sammy!

Here’s how I do it:

1.  Heat a frying pan with a little butter
2.  In a separate bowl beat 2 eggs
3.  Cook the eggs in the pan and scramble for about 3 minutes on medium-high heat
4.  Meanwhile, toast up a couple slices of your favorite Italian bread
5.  When the eggs are finished cooking, place them on one slice of the toasted bread
6.  If you like, throw a slice of provolone cheese on the bread (well, you don’t have to really throw it, unless you are adventuresome)
7.  Add 1 Tablespoon of Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera (2 Tablspoons if you are daring!)
8.  Top with the other slice of toasted bread
9.  Cut in half, and enjoy!

Thanks to Formato Brothers, I can taste the tradition of Chicago without leaving my kitchen.  Visit our homepage to see our current shipping specials, and let me know how you’ve created your own taste of Chicago-At-Home!

–Andrea Formato Castner


Crispy Hot Muffuletta Ravioli

December 2nd, 2011

Here’s what you need for a delicious snack or appetizer:

  • Cooked turkey chopped into tidbit size pieces
  • Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta Olive Salad
  • Wonton wrappers
  • Oil from FB Hot Muffuletta Olive Salad

Prepare wonton filling:

Chop turkey into small tidbit size pieces
Add Formato Brothers Hot Muffuletta ( to taste ) and mix in a large bowl

Heat oven to 350 degrees

Spray cookie sheet or large oven tray with non-stick Canola oil ( or vegetable oil spray or olive oil spray if you prefer )
Place wonton wrappers on tray, evenly spaced so that sides do not touch each other or tray/pan edges
Place a tablespoon of turkey/muffuletta mixture on wonton wrapper
Wet all four edges with water
Place another wonton on top of wonton with turkey/muffuletta mixture
Seal top wrapper to get any air pockets out by pressing edges together
Brush lightly with a small amount of hot muffuletta oil on one side only

Place tray(s) in oven at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until crisp

Enjoy !













The Formato Brothers Omelet

February 28th, 2011


Many thanks to Gary Marino for submitting this recipe.


  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • dash of ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup shredded Havarti cheese
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera
  • 2 tablespoons chopped red pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped breakfast sausage


Beat eggs and milk in small bowl with fork or wire whisk until yolks and whites are well mixed.  Heat butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until butter is hot and sizzling. As butter melts, tilt skillet to coat bottom with butter.  Add chopped red pepper and hot giardiniera to pan.  Stir the mixture and add ¼ cup of chopped breakfast sausage. Cook until sausage browns, season with pepper.  Pour eggs into skillet.  While rapidly sliding skillet back and forth over heat, quickly stir eggs with a fork to spread them continuously over the bottom of the skillet as they thicken. When they are thickened, let stand over heat a few seconds to lightly brown bottom of omelet.  Do not overcook… Sprinkle with cheese over omelet and fold in ½.  Note that the omelet will continue to cook after being folded.  Tilt skillet and run a spatula under edge of omelet, then jerk skillet sharply to loosen omelet from bottom of skillet and serve over a slice of whole wheat toast.


Four Cheese Pizza

January 5th, 2011

You can either buy a pizza crust from the supermarket or go online and get a recipe from your favorite chef or cook book.

Place crust on a pizza tray and sprinkle Antica Italia Olive Oil Infused with Garlic.  Use a pastry brush and coat the surface evenly.
Cut thin slices of mozzarella cheese and place them randomly on the crust.
Sprinkle pieces of Goat cheese on ¼ of pizza.
Sprinkle Blue cheese on ¼ of pizza.
Sprinkle shredded Cheddar cheese and on ¼ of the pizza.
Spread 1/2 cup of shredded Mozzarella cheese over the entire pizza.
Add a little salt and pepper and then a quick drizzle of the garlic infused olive oil.

Bake in oven at 400 degrees foe 12 minute or until you see that the crust is brown.

A delicious alternative to a tomato based pizza.

Buon Appetito!!

Meatless Eggplant Meatballs

January 5th, 2011

Makes 16 meat-less balls

4 medium Japanese eggplants peeled, sliced into cubes
1 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1 cup Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Salad (chopped)
½ cup Reggiano Parmegiano shredded cheese
½ cup Pelago Arrosto Italiano Seasoning
2 eggs
1 tsp Salt (to taste)
1 tsp ground pepper (to taste)
1 tblspn Antica Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup Flour
1 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil (for cooking eggplant meat-less balls)

Boil water and put eggplant in water for 10 minutes.  Drain, and press all water out of eggplant and let cool.
Mix all ingredients together and roll into just larger than golf ball size balls.  Roll in flour and set aside on a plate.
Place oil into frying pan and heat to medium high.  Balls should sizzle when placed into the oil.
Cook on all sides until brown.
Place on plate with paper towel to remove excess oil.

You can warm up some Antica Italia Marina Sauce and place eggplant meat-less balls into sauce.

Meatballs Amalfitana

December 22nd, 2010

Raisins make this meatball dish tasty!

2 lbs ground sirloin
2 large eggs
1 cup bread crumbs
2 Tblsp dried Pagliacci oregano (or use fresh which has been finely chopped)
2 Tblsp dried Pagliacci basil (or use fresh which has been finely chopped)
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped golden raisins
2 tsp Alessi Sea Salt
2 tsp ground pepper
2 Tblsp Antica Italia Olive Oil Infused With Basil
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

Mix together.  Fry in 4 Tblsp vegetable oil.  Delicioso!

Thanksgiving Turkey Pizza

November 30th, 2010

Half with olives, Half without

Home-made pizza dough (use your favorite or buy ready made thin crust pizza crust)
Turkey pieces /chunks (left over from Thanksgiving)
Mezzetta Organics Pitted Kalamata Olives  (use as desired)
Castella Imported Sun Dried Tomatoes (cut into thirds, use as desired)
Antica Italia Garlic Infused Olive Oil

Position crust on pizza tin.
Brush on Antica Italia Garlic Infused Olive Oil to cover entire pizza base.
Add turkey, sun dried tomatoes, kalamata olives as desired.
Sprinkle shredded mozzarella cheese over all.
Sprinkle more Antica Italia Garlic Flavored Olive Oil over all as desired.

Bake for 12 minutes at 400 degrees.

Remove, cut, serve, MANGIA!

Hot Dogs Formato Style

November 16th, 2010

Several Hot Dogs that will make you the envy of ANY tailgate party, backyard bar-b-que, or gathering with friend on a Sat or Sun afternoon to watch your favorite  college or pro football game.

Chicago Style

Chicago Dog
Pagliacci Sport Peppers
Dill pickle

Blue Cheese? Yes!

Provence Dog
Blue Cheese
Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad

Southwestern Dog

 Southwestern Dog
Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
Tortilla Chips

Try this one, y'all!

Texas Dog
Nacho Cheese
Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
Tortilla Chips

Sauerkraut evokes NY memories.

New York Dog
Formato Brothers Mild Pepper Spread


New Orleans Dog
Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Spread
French Fried Onion ( sold in cans )

Spaghetti Dog

Spaghetti Dog
Aglio Olio Spaghetti  ( see online  recipe for spicy spaghetti )

Aglio Olio Spaghetti

November 14th, 2010

1/2 lb Pasta Classica Spaghetti
1-2 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (2 Tblsp will be very spicy)
2 cloves of fresh garlic, diced
4 Tblsp Antica Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt to taste (a pinch should work)
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Boil 7 quarts of salted water.  Cook pasta for 9 – 10 minutes (al dente).
In a large skillet pour EVOO, diced garlic, Hot Pepper Spread.  Heat, then simmer (be careful not to burn the ingredients)
Add drained pasta into skillet and mix all together.
Sprinkle parmesan cheese atop the mixture.

Serve with crusty Italian bread and a fresh salad for lunch or dinner.

Buon Appetito!

Pear Tart

November 12th, 2010

Delicious Pear Tart - really really good!

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream Is A Favorite With Pear Tart

Ready made pie crust (the kind that needs to be unwrapped at room temperature, not the pre-formed crust in a pan)

4 Bosc pears ( slice into ¼ inch slices )

2 Tblsp Casa Giulia Pear Williams Jam

1 Tsp Agave nectar ( or honey will also work )

1 Tblsp hot water

2/3 cup sugar

1 Tblsp corn starch

¼ Tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 Tsp nutmeg

You will need parchment paper.

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Place store-bought pie crust on parchment paper on cookie tray.  Stretch a little to create an almost circular shape.
  3. Put Casa Giulia Pear Williams jam, agave nectar, and hot water into a cup and stir.
  4. Spread 2/3 of this mixture onto the pie crust.
  5. Place pear slices, sugar, corn starch, ground cinnamon and nutmeg into large bowl.  Gently stir mixture to coat all pears.
  6. Position pears on pie crust.
  7. Use remaining mixture (jam, nectar, water) to spread on the pears.
  8. Fold ends of crust over pear mixture.  They should not cover everything.
  9. Coat crust with remaining Casa Giulia Pear Williams mixture.
  10. Bake for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then reduce to 375 degrees & bake for 30 minutes until crust is golden brown.
  11. Serve warm with a scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Buon Appetito !

Spicy Meatballs With Eggplant

November 10th, 2010

3 lb. lean ground beef
1 lb. pork sausage ( breakfast links will work; remove casings )
2 cups Italian style breadcrumbs
2 eggs
1 cup Formato Brothers Hot Eggplant Salad ( chopped )
1 tspn salt
1 tspn fresh ground pepper
1 cup canola oil ( vegetable oil works too )

In a large mixing bowl mix beef, pork, breadcrumbs, eggs, eggplant, salt and pepper.  Use your hands, it is a great feeling.
Take about a large golf ball size of meat mixture and form into a ball.  Place on a plate until completed.
You should have about 25 wonderful meatballs.

In a 9 in skillet heat oil until medium-high.
Gently place meatballs in hot oil and carefully turn them about every 90 seconds until brown on all sides.
Remove meatballs and place on a paper towel on a plate to remove excess oil.

Wait until cool and then take a bite into a heavenly delight.
You can freeze for up to 3 months.

Buon Appetito!

Risotto with Mushrooms

November 9th, 2010

2 cups Antica Italia Superfino Arborio Rice
4 large mushrooms (any type will work fine); slice into 1/8 inch slices
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup white table wine (anything that you would drink)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped into small pieces)
1/2 red onion (chopped into small pieces)
4 Tblsp of Antica Italia Olive Oil with Basil (or evoo)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat vegetable broth until almost boiling in medium sized pot.   Add mushrooms and simmer.
Put olive oil in a 9 inch skillet and heat.
Add garlic and reduce flame to medium low.
Add mushrooms from broth pot.
Add rice and stir.  Be sure to cover all rice with oil.
Raise flame to medium.
Add wine and wait for rice to absorb all the liquid.
Add 1 ladle of broth and let rice absorb all the liquid.  Continue until all of the broth has been added.
After adding last ladle of broth, cover skillet and reduce flame to low.  Keep on low for 15 minutes and turn heat off.
Let skillet remain on stove for another 20 minutes.  Lift cover and add Parmesan cheese.

Serve and enjoy!!   Buon Appetito!!

Italian Peach Tart

November 9th, 2010

4 large peaches ( peeled and cut into slices)
3 Tblsp sugar
1 Tblsp lemon juice
1 Tblsp Tuaca Italian Liquer
1 store-bought pie crust; follow directions on package

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Mix peaches in large bowl.
Pour lemon juice over peaces, add sugar, Tuaca.
Place ingredients on pie crust on parchment paper on a large cookie tray.
Bake for 35 minutes until crust begins to brown.
Remove from oven.  Sprinkle sugar on warm tart.
Wait 30 minutes to cool.
Place on serving  dish.  Add vanilla ice cream for a wonderful dessert.

Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Eggplant Salad & Goat Cheese Salad

November 9th, 2010

Mix all of these ingredients together.  Add sea salt & freshly ground pepper as desired.

2 large tomatoes chopped into chunky pieces
2 large cucumbers cut into chunky pieces
1 cup Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad, drained
4 Tblsp crumbled goat cheese

When serving, add Antica Italia Olive Oil With Lemon Flavor or a slightly citrusy flavor.   Definitely chill this concoction since the flavors have a chance to mix together & the result is a crispy combination.  Serve with your favorite pasta or soup or sandwich.  Buon Appetito!

Rigatoni With Marinara Sauce And Eggplant Salad

November 8th, 2010

Rigatoni ready for tonite!

Boil pasta for 8 – 10 minutes.  Drain.
Simmer 1 jar Antica Italia Marinara Sauce til heated.
Add 3 Tblsp Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad.
Mix sauce & pasta.
Shave fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on the pasta.
Buon Appetito!

Amaretti Di Saronno Dessert

November 8th, 2010

Deliciously refreshing.

Amaretti Di Saronno Cookies
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
Disaronno Amaretto Liqueur

Truly, La Dolce Vita!

Life is too short!  Eat dessert first!

Limoncello Recipe

November 6th, 2010


Limoncello Laboratory

8 large lemons ( use potato peeler to remove rind)
1 btl. 750 ml vodka ( cheap stuff works just as good as expensive stuff )
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Large glass container with sealable lid

Pour vodka over lemon rinds in glass jar. Seal jar.

Shake twice each day for 12 days. On 12th day make simple syrup. ( To make, put sugar and water in pot.   Boil for 1 minute. )

While mixture is still warm pour simple syrupwater into vodka/lemon jar. Remove lemon rinds.

Shake twice each day for 4 more days. Remove lemon rinds and pour into small bottles and place in freezer.

Use as needed.

Enjoy the drink of Italy!

Seasoned Croutons

November 3rd, 2010
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Spray baking sheet w/ butter-flavored cooking spray.
  3. Place 6 slices day old bread on sheet & spray visible side lightly w/ EVOO or butter flavored spray.
  4. Sprinkle each piece w/ Pelago Italian Dipping Herbs seasoning.
  5. Drizzle EVOO atop all pieces.  Bake for 8 minutes, then turn & repeat above steps on reverse side.
  6. Bake for 8 minutes more.  For variety, sprinkle freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese on one or both sides.
  7. Remove from oven, cool, trim edges, cut into small serving pieces.  Serve w/ salads, or as a snack.
  8. Store in a tin container.

Spicy Stuffed Peppers

November 3rd, 2010
6 medium sized green peppers (red or yellow are also good to use) or 4 large
3 Tblsp Antica Italia EVOO in large skillet
3 cloves garlic chopped
3 extra large button mushrooms – clean & chop
6 sausage links – remove casings (pork makes for an interesting flavor)
1 cup grated fresh parmesan or reggiano
1 Tsp salt
1 – 2 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
Feta cheese or more parmesan or reggiano to sprinkle on top, if desired

Heat EVOO in large skillet.  Brown sausage.  Add 1 Tsp salt & 1 – 2Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread.  Add a little at a time to test for desired spicy flavor.  Cook together.  Stuff 4 large or 6 medium peppers.  Bake 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  Top w/ cheese & return to oven for another 10 minutes.

Crusty Italian bread, toasted or plain, would complement this dish, as well as a really red wine.  Buon Appetito!

Panettone Italian Toast

November 2nd, 2010

Delicious for breakfast.


3 slices Panettone Sweet Angel Specialty Cake (sliced a little larger than regular bread)
2 large eggs (whisked & placed in a dipping container)
3 Tblsp powdered sugar

Use butter spray to coat a frying pan, set temp to medium-high.
Toast bread for 2 minutes on each side.
Place on serving platter, sift powdered sugar on each slice.

Enjoy this wonderful seasonal Italian dolce cake.

Fried Ricotta Cakes

October 31st, 2010

Easy to prepare!

Carl Formato II preparing fried cheese cakes w/ Carl Formato Sr.

2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup pre sifted flour
1 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
2 large eggs (whisked together in a small bowl)
2 cups canola oil
3 Tblsp Antica Italia White Truffle Oil

Use small ice cream scoop to scoop out 18-20 round cheese balls.   Freeze for 20 minutes to harden.
Remove from freezer, flatten by hand, cover in flour, then egg, then bread crumbs.  Gently place in hot canola oil.  Turn after 2 minutes, then repeat w/ other side until both sides are browned.

Place on paper towel to absorb oil.  Place on serving dish & drizzle with truffle oil.

Makes a wonderful appetizer.

Chicken Muffuletta Sandwich

October 31st, 2010

Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Salad Sandwich

2 slices whole wheat bread (or your favorite)
Seasoned roasted chicken (slice thin) – place atop bread slices
3 Tblsp Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Salad – put as much as desired atop the chicken slices
Lettuce – 1 large red leaf or romaine leaf

Slice & enjoy a taste of New Orleans!

Tomato, Eggplant, Mozzarella Salad

October 29th, 2010

Tomato, Eggplant, Mozarella Salad

1 large beefsteak tomato (or any large firm tomato)
3 Tblsp Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad (drained)
3 Tblsp red onion sliced & slivered
5 or 6 basil leaves (tear into small pieces)
4 or 5 slices of mozzarella cheese
2 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil (Antica Italia is delicious)
Salt & pepper (as desired)

Arrange tomatoes on plate, top w/ remaining ingredients.

Ricotta & Pomegranate Pancakes

October 28th, 2010

Perfect for the fall season!

1  3/4 cup pancake mix (use any kind, as shown, these were made w/ Buttermilk Pancake mix)
1 cup milk (use whole milk or 2% milk)
1 Tblsp canola oil
1 large egg
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds + as much as you’d like more for sprinkling

Mix all ingredients together.

Heat griddle.  Spray w/ butter spray on warm griddle.
Make pancakes, about 30 seconds on each side.
Sprinkle w/ pomegranate seeds.

Serve w/ your favorite syrup or any flavor of Casa Giulia Jams.  DELICIOSO!

Makes 18 medium sized pancakes.

Spaghetti With Artichoke Hearts & Sun Dried Tomatoes

October 25th, 2010

Delicioso with Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread

Cook 1 lb spaghetti as directed on the package. Drain.

Simmer 3 Tblsp EVOO in a frying pan.  Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a twist of freshly ground pepper, 1 cup of halved artichoke hearts, 3 Tblsp sliced sun dried tomatoes. Sun dried tomatoes in oil should be drained first.  also add 1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread.

Drain pasta, add it to saute pan, mix together briefly, plate the mixture & sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.  Your guests will oooh & aaah when they see this colorful dish presented to them.

Buon Appetito!

Formato Brothers Fresh Salsa #2

October 8th, 2010

2-3 medium sized tomatoes, seeded, chopped into small pieces
1 medium sized green pepper, seeded, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 Tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tblsp freshly squeezed lime juice
Sea salt as desired
1 Tblsp cumin
1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot or Mild Pepper Spread

Mix together in a non-metal bowl, cover, refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Serve

Formato Brothers Fresh Salsa #1

October 8th, 2010

3 medium Roma tomatoes, chopped
1 Tblsp shallots, chopped
1/2 cup or more white onion, chopped
1/2 cup or more green pepper, seeded, chopped
2 Tblsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 Tblsp freshly squeeze lime juice
1 1/2 Tsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
A pinch or two of sea salt

Combine all ingredients in a non-metal bowl.  Cover.  Refrigerate 2 hours.  Serve w/ favorite chips or atop grilled sliced bread for bruschetta appetizers.

Grilled Chicken Breasts With Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad

August 19th, 2009

Season thawed or fresh chicken breasts with Pelago Chicken Vesuvio rub, flavorful, easy to use.

Grill til done, turning once.  Serve with a green vegetable; we used broccoli & cheese, but grilled asparagus seasned w/ a litle olive oil, salt & pepper would work just as well.  Top each chicken breast w/ 1 -2 Tblsp of Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad.

The result is a nice blend of textures & flavors & colors.  Buon Appetito!


Marino Maccheroni

August 10th, 2009

Here is a wonderfully fresh & tasty pasta meal using the Formato Brothers Mild Giardiniera.  Fresh herbs & tomatoes atop the Maccheroni makes for a healthy main dish at your next gathering.

Marino Maccheroni

At the end of the recipe you’ll find a few more fotos from the Marino kitchen where this meal was created for Formato Brothers.


  • 1 pound dried pasta
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled & fine chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves – coarse chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes – coarse chopped
  • One bottle of Formato Brothers Mild Giardiniera

Fresh Ingredients + Formato Brothers Mild Giardiniera


In a large pot, bring to a boil 6 quarts of salted water.  Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes.  Drain pasta in a colander, reserving 2 tablespoons of the pasta water.  The reserved pasta water will help create the sauce.  Do not rinse pasta with water — you want to retain the pasta’s natural starches so that the sauce will stick.

In a large sauté pan, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and sauté until light brown and fragrant.  It’s important not too burn the garlic or else it will become bitter.  Add the entire bottle of Formato Brothers Mild Giardiniera to the oil and garlic in the sauté pan.   Add the red pepper flakes and sauté for 1 minute.  Carefully add the reserved pasta water and stir to combine.  Place the drained pasta back into the large pot along with the Mild Giardiniera sauce from the sauté pan and mix well for 1 minute.  Heat briefly on low setting.

Remove the pot (that originally was used to cook the pasta) from low heat.  Empty the combined pasta and sauce mixture onto a large serving platter, top with fresh herbs and chopped tomatoes.

Olive Oil, Mild Giardiniera, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes

Olive Oil, Mild Giardiniera, Garlic, Red Pepper Flakes

Gary Marino in his kitchen.

Gary Marino in his kitchen.

Pasta on the plate.

Pasta on the plate.

Gary & Peggy Marino adding tomatoes to the Marino Maccheroni.

Gary & Peggy Marino adding tomatoes to the Marino Maccheroni.


Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread Pasta Sauce

August 6th, 2009

4 lbs ripe tomatoes**
Blanch, cool in ice water, remove skins & core.  Smoosh all together, use or freeze for a couple days.

Peel & chop many fresh garlic gloves (a whole head will work), or if you don’t like to peel & chop, use the already-chopped kind you can buy in a little jar in a grocery store.  Saute garlic in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil in a flat bottom deep saute pan.  Continue until someone walks into the house & says, “What smells so good?” or “When do we eat?”  That really means until slightly browned.

Add the fresh tomato mixture, a lot of sea salt, 1 ½ – 2 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread.

Cover & cook over medium flame on the stove for at least one hour.  The sauce should thicken just a little, but it should not be thick.  Stir once in awhile.

Add fresh basil leaves.  The minty flavored leaves especially provide a nice contrast to the spicy pepper spread.

Serve over cooked pasta, cavatelli, farfalle, fusilli, trofie are suggestions;  any shaped pasta will work.  Avoid heavy shapes which work better with a meat sauce.

Make a double batch because it will be wonderful the next day when the flavors blend even more; you’ll want to have some in case there are any leftovers needing more sauce.  Hopefully your dinner guests will leave you with empty pasta bowls, but you’ll have extra sauce ready just in case.

Buon Appetito!

** Roma Tomatoes are tasty for sauce, but you can mix varieties

Note From Mama Formato:  I recently made this using a few of each:  Roma Tomatoes on a Vine, Hydroponically produced large red tomatoes—delicious, fresh, flavorful results.

Award Winning Formato Brothers Spicy Italian Chili

May 7th, 2009

We are so excited about this recipe.  For the first time ever we entered it in a Chili Cookoff contest & won first prize!  We’ve never entered any contests before, so this was exciting & fun for us.  We competed against 19 others & received a fantastic trophy to acknowledge our efforts.  Woo Hoo!   Thanks to our friend & food consultant, Sam Manfer, for his assistance, & also to our family for helping us with the behind-the-scenes work to make this happen.   Click on the link below the recipe to see how this wonderful chili is made.


Msgr. John Urell, Sam Manfer, Carl Formato, Patricia Bates (CA Assembly), Robert Ming (Mayor, Laguna Niguel CA) – May 29, 2009

2 medium sized yellow onions, finely chopped
Antica Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo)
1/2 red pepper, finely chopped
Celery, finely chopped to make 1 cup
2 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
1 lb hot or spicy sausage
2 cans (6 oz each) tomato paste (with or without seasonings)
3 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz with or without seasonings)
1 can black beans (15 oz) drained & rinsed
1 can kidney beans (15 oz) drained & rinsed
2 Tblsp Alessi Sea Salt
1 Tsp ground black pepper
1 Tblsp garlic powder
2 Tblsp oregano

  1. Saute the following in Extra Virgin Olive Oil (evoo):  onions, red pepper, celery (no leaves), 2 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread.
  2. Split the sausage casing lengthwise; remove casing.  Use the back end of a knife to scrape the casing to remove the sausage.  Use a spatula to break the sausage into manageable little pieces.
  3. Add the sausage to the saute pan while vegetables are heating.  Cook over low heat until sausage is almost cooked.
  4. Stir in 2 cans tomato paste.
  5. Transfer all to a large pot.  Add 3 cups water.
  6. Stir & simmer on a low flame.
  7. Drain & rinse black beans & kidney beans.  Add to mixture in large pot.
  8. Add diced tomatoes.  Stir all together & cook a little while longer.
  9. Add the following in this order:  sea salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, oregano.
  10. Cook over low heat for 30 minutes.  Add a little water as needed to adjust consistency to your liking.
  11. Serve in cups or bowls with or without garnish, as desired:  more chopped onions, Reggiano, Parmesan, Cheddar or Manchego cheese.  Whatever cheese you find in your refrigerator will work.
  12. Serve with a crisp green salad, some crusty Italian bread, a glass of red wine, such as Cabernet or Pinot Noir, & enjoy a flavorful, delicious meal.  Buon Appetito!  This may be made a day before serving & then reheated.

Click on the link below to see Sam & Carl in action in the kitchen preparing this chili.

Award Winning Spicy Italian Chili

Meatballs With Eggplant

May 5th, 2009

These flavorful meatballs, made with Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad, will be well received, served with your favorite pasta & sauce.  Delicious by themselves or on an Italian bun.  Pour some Marinara sauce over them for added flavor.

1 lb ground beef
1 cup Vigo Italian Breadcrumbs
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 Tsp oregano
3 Tblsp Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad (drained & chopped)
2 Tsp black ground pepper
2 Tsp Alessi Sea Salt
1 egg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Mix all ingredients together by hand in large stainless bowl.
Roll an average amount into 1 1/2 – 2 inch wide balls & place on a raised cookie rack on a cookie sheet (with sides).  This will allow the excess fat from meatballs to drain onto the cookie sheet while they are baked in the oven.
Bake in oven for 22 – 25 minutes.  Enjoy.   Buon Appetito!

Sam’s Chicken Broccoli Bake

April 30th, 2009

1 pkg Pillsbury Grands Home Style
2 boneless chicken breast (without skin), cut up pieces, not cooked
1 Tsp EVOO
1 large onion
1 red pepper, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
1 Tsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (of, if you dare, add as much as you like)
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp pepper
1 Tblsp garlic powder
1 Tsp oregano
1 box Green Giant Broccoli & Cheese Sauce

  1. Use 1/2 pkg of Grands & form into a ball of dough.  Roll to create a square shape & place in glass 9″ square baking dish.  Form up the sides about 1/2″.  It is not necessary to grease the pan.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Bake bottom for 12-15 minutes until slightly browned.
  3. Select a large frying pan for the following steps.  Wet the pan w/ EVOO.
  4. Saute the following:  cut-up onion, red peper, Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread, salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano.
  5. Add to chicken pieces.  Cook until slightly tender.
  6. Scoop chicken mixture atop pre-baked bottom pie crust.
  7. Bake for 15 minuts.
  8. While this mixture is baking, cook the Pillsbury Broccoli Cheese mixture in microwave, as per package instructions.
  9. Add it to the top of the prebaked mixture.
  10. Sprinkle a little of the Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (or to your taste) on top of the chicken mixture.
  11. Use 1/2 pkg of Home Style Grands & form into another ball of dough.  Roll dough to create another square shape & place atop the mixture.
  12. Bake for 20 minutes.
  13. Wait 15 minutes for flavors to blend a little more.  Then serve this very colorful & enticing dish with a crisp salad for a flavorful & healthy meal.  Buon Appetito!

Farfalle & Zucchini

April 30th, 2009

Antica Italia Olive Oil: 1/3 cup + 3 Tblsp
4 cloves garlic, minced (ok to use already minced garlic)
2 lbs zucchini, trim, cut in half lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/4 inch slices
2 1/2 Tsp salt (we like sea salt or kosher salt)
3/4 lb plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil (do not used dried)
1/4 cup + a little more wine vinegar (look at the many vinegars offered at
1 1/2 Tsp ground black pepper
1 package Farfalle pasta

Heat 3 Tblsp oil in a large frying pan. Do not overheat. Add garlic, zucchini, 1/2 Tsp salt. Cook about 5 minutes, til tender, stirring occasionally. Put zucchini into a decorative serving bowl & stir in tomatoes, basil, vinegar, 2 Tsp salt, pepper.

Cook Farfalle about 15 minutes or a little less, until just done. Drain & toss with the marinated zucchini & 1/3 cup oil. Buon Appetito!

Joannes & Mark’s Favorite Bucatini Ala Vodka (serves 8-10 people)

April 30th, 2009

 1/2 pound prosciutto (Italian cooked ham)

2 Tblsps olive oil

2 Tblsps unsalted butter

1 large white onion

2-28oz cans crushed Italian tomatoes

3 Tblsps finely chopped Italian parsley leaves

1 quart heavy cream reduced by half (simmer over low heat until approximately ½ quart remains)

¾ cup vodka

Salt and pepper to taste

2 pounds cooked Conte Bucatini (break in half before cooking)


Finely dice the cooked ham and set it aside.

Place a heavy bottom sauté pan on medium-high flame.  Add the olive oil and the butter.  When the butter melts and becomes foamy add the chopped onions, let it sauté until crispy, DO NOT let it brown.


Add the diced ham, mix it in, lower the flame and let it sweat for about 15 minutes, stir it occasionally.


Add the crushed tomatoes, mix it in, let it simmer for another 20 minutes, then add the parsley, simmer for 3 minutes, add the reduced heavy cream and the vodka, mix it well and let simmer for 20 minutes.   


Check the consistency, simmer for another 10 minutes if you need to, season with salt and pepper  mix in the cooked pasta, let it simmer for 2 minutes.  Serve it HOT!

Linguine With Octopus

April 30th, 2009

1 lb linguine
1 tin Roland Octopus
1 small onion
2 cloves grlic
1/2 lb Fontina cheese, chopped or shaved
1/2 cup white wine
1 Tsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread

Chop onion, garlic, parsley, saute in frying pan with oil & 2 Tblsp water for 1o minutes.  Add octopus & continue to cook for 10 minutes.  Cook linguine, al dente, toss into frying pan with white wine for a few minutes.  Just before serving sprinle cheese onto pasta.  Buon Appetito!

Spaghetti With Anchovies

April 30th, 2009

1 tin Roland Anchovies
1 small onion
3 ripe tomatoes
2 cans tomato paste
1 lb Conte Spaghetti (try flavored for variety)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup white wine
1 sprig parsley
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread
1 clove garlic

Chop up the garlic, parsley, onion & brown slowly in a frying pan for 10 – 15 minutes.
Add the tin of Roland Anchovies & wamr for 5 minutes.
Pour in the white wine & cook until all browns.
Add tomato (cut into eighths), tomato paste, Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread, then cook for 10 minutes.
Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, al dente, drain, toss into frying pan with other ingredients for a few minutes, then serve.  Delcioso!

Risotto With Oysters

April 30th, 2009

1 pkg Antica Italia Arborio Rice (instan) 17.64 oz
2 tins Roland Oysters
1 small onion
1 carton chicken broth
1 Tsp chopped parsley
1/2 cup sparkling white wine
1/2 cup oil
Pagliacci Parmesan Cheese

Chop the onion & parsley, saute in pan until onions are brown.  Boil rice with chicken broth.  Once the rice has absorbed most of the chicken broth add the ingredients from the saute pan along wih the oysters & let rest for 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese & serve.

Anchovy Stuffed Green Peppers

April 30th, 2009

4 green peppers
1 medium white onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup Vigo Italian herb breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 sprig parsley
1/4 lb Pecorino cheese
5 Tblsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
6 Tblsp parsley
2 cups vegetable oil for frying
1 tin Roland Anchovies

  • Chop the onion into julienne slices.  Saute with 3 Tblsp chopped parsley in 5 Tblsp EVOO.  Remove from heat & add breadcrumbs to absorb the oil
  • Cool, then add 3 Tblsp parsley & chopped anchovies.  If too dry, add a little water to make the mixture more pliable.
  • Cut the top off of the green peppers, remove the seeds & membrans.  Fill to the top with the mixture.
  • Dip the open end of the filled pepper into the beaten egg & then into the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Dip the open end of the pepper into the frying oil until a golden crust has formed.
  • Lower the heat & continue to fry the pepper on all all sides until cooked.  Multi Bene!  Buon Appetito!

Black Ink Squid Spaghetti With Clams

April 30th, 2009

1 pkg Conte Black ink Squid Spaghetti (al nero di sepia)
1 jar of Roland Baby Clams
1 medium onion
1 1/2 cups of Cora Brand Peeled Tomatoes
1 Tblsp parsley
1 cup grated Pecorino cheese
5 Tblsp Antica Italia EVOO

Boil the spaghtti until al dente, about 9 minutes.
Saute chopped onion until transparent &U 5 Tblsp EVOO.
Add parsley & tomatoes.
Add baby clams & let simmer for 15-20 minutes.
Drain pasta while still al dente & place into pan.
Simmer with cover on for several minutes.
Serve with grated Pecorino cheese.  Buon Appetito!

Meat Stuffed Artichokes

April 30th, 2009

10 artichokes
1 1/2 lbs ground beef (extra lean works well)
5 Tblsp pine nuts
1/4 Tsp cinnamon
4 Tblsp Antica Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

  • Trim artichoke tops & remove tough outer leaves.
  • Saute artichokes in 4 Tblsp EVOO.
  • In same oil saute gound beef, add choppd onion, pine nuts, cinnamon, a pinch of salt.
  • Fill each artichoke with a Tblsp of the meat mixture.
  • Place artichokes in an oiled baking pan & fill pan with enough water to cover the artichokes about half way.
  • Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Buon Appetito!

Peppers, Anchovies & Capers Appetizers

April 30th, 2009

4 large green bell peppers, chopped into 1/4″ pieces
5 Tblsp Pagliacci Capers (extra large size)
1 tin Roland Anchovies (cut into small pieces)
4 Tblsp vegetable oil
1 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (drain some of the oil)

  1. Add vegetable to warm frying pan.
  2. Add peppers saute.
  3. Add capers, anchovies, Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread.
  4. Lower heat to simmer, cover pan.
  5. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Toast Italian bread slices.
  7. Serve mixture on top of the toasted bread. Buon Appetito!

Conch Fritters

April 30th, 2009
  • 1 can La Monica Scungilli ( 6 1/2 oz)
  • 1 small to medium white onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbslp butter, melted
  • 8 Tblsp flour
  • 1 Tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 Tsp salt, or to taste
  • 5 cups of vegetable oil for browning fritters

Chop scungilli in food processor.
Grate onion & pepper into conch.
Add eggs, salt & melted butter.  Mix well.
Sift flour & baking powder into mixture.
Blend until it is thick enough to spoon into hot oil.
Fry until golden brown on all sides.
Serve with seafood sauce of your choice.  Makes 14 – 18 fritters.  Buon Appetito!

Garlic & Rosemary Potatoes

April 30th, 2009

Ingredients:  2 large potatoes, 2 garlic cloves, 1 Tblsp rosemary, 1 Tblp salt, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, 2-3 Tblsp Antica Italia Infused Oil With Basil

  1. Clean & cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.
  2. Chop garlic into fine pieces
  3. Place into very warm pan of vegetable oil.  If you hear the cracking when you put the potatoes into the pan the oil is hot enough.
  4. Fry for 8-10 minutes, turning when each side of potato gets evenly brown.
  5. Put garlic, rosemary & salt into pan & lower heat.
  6. Cover & simmer for 5-8 minutes.
  7. Place potatoes on paper towels to dry some of the oil.
  8. Salt to taste & drizzle Antica Italia Infused Oil With Basil over the potatoes.

Buon Appetito!

Saffron-Scented Couscous With Pine Nuts

April 30th, 2009

3 cups chicken broth
3 Tbls butter, unsalted, divided
1/2 Tsp Vigo saffron threads, crushed
1/4 Tsp coarse kosher salt
2 cups Antica Italia Couscous
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted

Boil broth, 2 Tbsp butter, saffron, 1/4 Tsp salt in large saucepan, stir to melt butter.
Remove from heat.  Add couscous.  Cover, let stand until liquid is absorbed & couscous is tender, maybe 10 minutes.  Fluff with fork.  Add 1 Tblsp butter & 1/2 of green onions & nuts.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Add remaining green onions & nuts in  decorative serving bowl.

Carlo’s Spicy Meatballs

April 28th, 2009
  • 1 lb lean ground beef (or turkey)
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 2/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup seasoned Italian garlic & herb bread crumbs
  • 1 Tblsp minced garlic
  • 1 Tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera (drain first before chopping)
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Using a large bowl, mix the first 6 ingredients together by hand.  Add chopped Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera.  Form a meatball about 2″ in diameter.  Place on wax pape until ready to fry.  In a large skillet pour enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom.  Heat until very warm.  Cook meatballs for about 7 – 8 minutes, routinely turning to prevent burning.  Remove from skillet, serve with a hot pasta dish & sauce.  These can be made smaller to be served as appetizers.

Aunt Ida’s Hot Pepper Cheese Bread

April 28th, 2009

3.5cups flour
2 Tsp salt
2 Tblsp sugar
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
1 egg
1 packet fast rising yeast
1 cup warm water
2/3 cup Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread  (Drain most f the oil from the mixture.  It should be relatively dry.)
2/3 cup of shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Place flour in stainless bowl.  Make a well & place salt, sugar, oil in well.  Break egg into a small bowl, whisk it slightly.  Pour egg into other liquids.  Place yeast into liquids & put a small quantity of warm water into liquid.  Make sure that all of yeast is covered.  Wait 20 minutes for yeast to begin “bubbling.”  Once yeast has begun to work, mix in remaining water, bringing all of the contents together.
  3. Knead the flour mixture for about 15 minutes using the palms of both hands.
  4. Shape into a rectangular loaf.  Place the dough into a rectangular glass bowl & cover with a slightly damp towel for 3 hours to allow the bread to rise.
  5. Once bread has risen, take it out of the bowl  place it on a slightly floured bread board.  Hit the bread mixutre once with both hands to get all of the air out of the mixture.
  6. Roll the bread mixture out into a rectangular pattern.  Spread the Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread onto the dough.
  7. Sprinkle with cheese.
  8. Carefully form the dough into a roll shape.  Place into a bread pan.  Cover pan with dry towel for one hour to let bread set.  Remove towel.
  9. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until brown.  Yield:  1 medium sized loaf or 4 small loaves.  The small loaves can be used for bruschetta or appetizers.  Can be frozen.

Pasta Salad

April 28th, 2009

Cook one bag tri-color veggie pasta as directed on the package.  Drain & rinse with cold water.  Add the following ingredients:

  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium green pepper, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 6 leaves fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Liberal amount of oregano
  • 3-4 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread; ok to use Mild Pepper Spread for a less spicy flavor
  • 1/2 cup white viegar
  • 4 heaping Tsp Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 lb mozzarella cheese, chopped into cubes (optional)
  • Black olives, pitted, sliced; ok to use sliced Kalamata Olives
  • Chill at least 2 hours before serving.  Serve with garlic bread.

Buon Appetito!

Grandma Formato’s Antipasto Salad

April 28th, 2009

Grandma Formato's Antipasto Salad

We served this for a holiday get together recently.  It was well received & so flavorful with the Formato Brothers Eggplant Salad!

Excellent presentation for your next Italian themed party.  It looks appealing & tastes wonderful.
Mix the following together.  Cover & refrigerate.  Can be made up to 2 days before serving.

  • Formato Brothers Hot Giardiniera (drain some of the oil)
  • Formato Brothers Eggpland Salad (drain some of the liquid)
  • Pitted medium or large black olives (drain liquid)
  • Artichoke hearts (do not drain)
  • Green Salad Olives
  • Red Cherry Peppers (drain liquid)
  • Paesana Baby Pepperoncini (optional)
  • Dried salami & mozzarella cheese (optional)

Mini Muffuletta Sandwich

April 28th, 2009
  1. Slice an 8″ – 10″ Italian round loaf in half to create upper & lower halves.
  2. Spread at least one cup of Formato Brothers Muffuletta Olive Salad on one of the halves.
  3. Add layers of salami & provolone cheese. Close the sandwich, cut into quarters or eighths & enjoy!

A true muffuletta sandwich will include additional layers of mortadella or prosciutto or capicolla & another sice of provolone and/or mozzarella. Some recipes call for sprinkled chopped cloves of garlic as well. It’s your choice. The Italian Muffuletta Sandwich originated in the early 20th century in New Orleans.

Auntie Jean’s Sausage Bread

April 28th, 2009

(You will need a Kitchen Aid mixer with a bread hook)

  1. Sprinkle 1 Tblsp sugar over 1 pkg yeast.  Add 1/2 cup hot water.  Do not stir or mix.  Put this bowl aside until mixture doubles in size.
  2. In large mixing bowl mix the following ingredients together with Kitchen Aid bread hook: 1 Tblsp sugar, 1 Tblsp salt, 1 1/4 cups hot water, 2 cups flour, 1 egg, 4 Tblsp Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread (do not drain).
  3. Add yeast mixture to bowl while it’s mixing.  Gradually add 2 cups flour.  Continue mixing until dough pulls away from sides of bowl & texture is nice & soft, not sticky to the hands.
  4. Put dough into a greased bowl; cover with Saran Wrap; put in warm place until it doubles in size.
  5. Form dough into desired shape (almost a rectangle is a good shape).  Roll dough out on bread board.  Spoon marinara sauce over dough.
  6. Remove casing from Italian Sausage & saute in a frying pan until brown.
  7. In another frying pan saute fresh spinach in vegetable or olive oil, seasoned with a little minced garlic.
  8. Spread spinach & sausage on dough.
  9. Roll to form a rectangular loaf.  Place on greased cookie sheet; let it rise to double its size.
  10. Bake 350 degrees until golden brown.  Slice & serve.  Buon Appetito!

Spicy Pasta Meal

April 26th, 2009
  1. Cook one 12 oz bag Penne Rigati as directed on the package. Drain
  2. Heat 1-2 Tblsp oil from a jar of Formato Brothers Hot Pepper Spread in a very large skillet. Add 1 large onion, chopped. Saute for 3 miutes. Add 1/2 cup chopped green pepper & continue to saute until soft.
  3. Remove casings from 2 -3 five inch pieces of Italian sausage. Break up into pieces & add to skillet.
  4. Saute until sausage is brown.
  5. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic, liberal amounts of oregano, garlic powder, salt & pepper to taste.
  6. Add 16 oz tomato sauce & 4 oz water. Add the pasta. Stir & cook all a little longer.
  7. Serve with garlic toast & a crisp salad.