Monday, February 08, 2016

Expedia World On A Plate Challenge | A Taste Of Italy ♥

I was recently invited by Expedia to take part in their 'World On A Plate Challenge', where I was given the task to create a meal made from Italian cuisine and to share how this meal was inspired by the romance of Italy itself. What with Valentine's Day not being too far away and wanting to broaden my culinary skills (much to my other halves, delight I can tell you!) I was delighted to take them up on the invitation.

I immediately began thinking about my favourite Italian dishes, none of which I had ever created at home by the way, apart from my 'go-to' dinner option of spaghetti bolognase. For this challenge I wanted to broaden my culinary horizons a little and create a delicious, romantic meal, which really did embody to true romance of Italy, for my other half and I to enjoy.

We have both been on holiday to Italy before, although separately and I fondly remember my time exploring the sights of Florence, visiting the art gallery, fawning over the beautiful jewellery in the shops on the Ponte Vecchio and enjoying some delicious Italian food and the biggest gelato I've ever seen. Italy really did have such a wonderful sense of romance to it, what with the gorgeous warm weather, historical sites and the beautiful views. It really is a destination that is ideal for lovers.

Dough balls with olive oil and parma ham
I remember this starter so well from my trip to Italy and it has since remained one of my firm favourites. I had never tried parma ham before my trip to Florence but I'm so glad I discovered it, it's absolutely delicious and goes so well with the freshly baked dough balls and olive oil. It's such a simple starter but one that's great to enjoy with your other half. Nothing is more sensual than finger food, aren't I right?

These are really simple to make and don't take too long at all, they also take about six minutes to bake so are great for when you want to whip up something to eat quickly. To make the dough balls you will need -

200g of plain flour
1/2 tsp of instant dried yeast
1 tsp of salt
130ml of water

1. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl to form a sticky dough mixture.
2. Cover with cling-film and leave the dough to rise until it has doubled in size.
3. When it has risen, knead the dough on a floured surface.
4. Use a sharp knife to cut the dough into slices - I cut mine into 14 pieces as I wanted some large and some smaller dough balls.

5. Shape the dough by kneading it lightly and tucking in the corners into the middle. This makes for a nice round shape on top. You can also shape the dough balls by cupping them in your hands. Remember, they don't need to look perfect, this is an Italian dish, the rustic look adds to the charm!
6. Place the dough balls onto a parchment paper covered baking tray.
7. Leave them to rest for a few minutes before baking.
8. Drizzle with a small bit of olive oil to glaze.
9. Bake at 240 degrees for six minutes.

10. Eat whilst the dough balls are warm and soft. Dip them in olive oil/garlic dip/pesto (whatever you fancy) and wrap them in the parma ham.

As this meal was prepared in the spirit of Valentine's Day I also made tagliatelle carbonara - a dish I always order when I got to an Italian restaurant. This was made using fresh tagliatelle and my favourite carbonara sauce from the supermarket (I haven't got the culinary skills to actually make the sauce myself at the moment!). I topped this with lots of Parmesan and it was absolutely delicious, a perfect main for a romantic meal.

To accompany the main I prepared some bruschetta using Italian-style seeded bread, which I cut into halves and topped with pesto, sundried tomatoes and Parmesan. I grilled these and they were a perfect addition to the main, my other half loved his bruschetta and once again this was so simple to prepare.

For dessert we had real Italian gelato in lemon flavour, I thought these would be a good alternative to the limoncello which we'd usually enjoy at the end of an Italian meal but which I obviously can't have at the moment as I'm pregnant. I also got Jacek some Italian chocolate biscotti to enjoy with his after dinner coffee.

We had a delicious, romantic meal inspired by the romance that Italy has to offer and we both really enjoyed it. The only thing that could have made it better would have been sitting on a veranda near the Mediterranean, sipping on a nice cool glass of Italian wine, soaking up the pleasant Italian heat and enjoying some beautiful and romantic views... hopefully we'll experience that one day soon.

*This is a collaborative post on behalf of Expedia.



  1. Never thought about making my own doughballs - it looks easy, thank you!

  2. What a deliciously prepared meal Fiona it looks amazing and well done. I am yet to cook am Italian meal from scratch apart from the usually bolognase lol

  3. Oh I'm so hungry after reading this! It looks amazing and as I love italian food I will have to try following this

  4. Oh my goodness I would have this without the ham but apart from that this looks amazing and I love that you are drawing inspiration from Italy! I have always wanted to visit x

  5. Wow! This looks amazing - you'd have never guessed you're not well practiced in Italian cuisine. The bruschetta in particular look amazing. Now I'm craving pasta...

  6. This looks amazing, I love Italian food the flavours are so amazing. What a lovely romantic meal

  7. That looks delicious! We went to Tuscany and filled out bellies with the local cuisine. It's not that it's complex food. It's just fresh, delicious ingredients perfectly seasoned. My mouth is drooling.

  8. OOh this looks just amazing, I adore Italian food, though have never made my own x

  9. Now I am hungry too! Italian is my favourite - I always order carbonara too! Your dishes look so delicious, I wish I could cook! Kaz x

  10. oh that looks so good! I am a sucker for good Italian food!

  11. The entire meal looks amazing! It's made me very hungry :)

  12. Oh yummy I would have quite gladly eaten all of that up. The dough balls and parma ham sounds devine and I always order carbonara myself when out so I would have loved that to. You have inspired me to cook up an italian treat this weekend, thank you.


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