Today’s Tuscan Inspired Friendsgiving post has been brought to you by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are my own. #HolidayPairings #CollectiveBias **The following content is intended for readers who are 21 or older.**
Disclaimer: Today’s Tuscan Inspired Friendsgiving post is incredibly long, but we will be walking through a complete menu plan- start to finish!
I’ve chatted about it a time or two, but my previous career had me traveling the country typically 8 months out of the year. Traditionally, if you were assigned out of state during the holidays Christmas was the only time you were able to travel home. Thanksgiving, and other holidays, without reserved time off, meant you’d be away from your friends and family….celebrating in unfamiliar places. If you’ve ever wondered why hotels offer fancy Thanksgiving dinners and if people really spend their Thanksgiving in them, they do. I was one of those people!
We’ve been calling them “friendsgivings” long before Pinterest made them trendy because for us, being separated from our families, spending time with work friends was the best way of making the day enjoyable. I’ve had turkey in Kansas City, Portland, Phoenix, and some little quaint town in Pennsylvania that I can’t even remember the name. I know how much it meant to have a couple of people from the office to spend the day with, so it got me thinking about making it tradition regardless if it is with people who are either too far from their loved ones to get home, or maybe they just don’t have loved ones to spend time with.
Rather than turkey, however, I opted for a Tuscan Inspired Friendsgiving that way, if anyone was partaking in turkey elsewhere, our day would offer a little something different. I kept the menu simple with a Sweet Basil Italian Sausage Pasta, a French Bread Hot Crab Dip, Grilled Sensation Salad, a Tiramisu pie and of course, lots of wine!
The new Barilla Pronto Pasta is the superstar in the Sweet Basil Italian Sausage Pasta.
It’s a new product eliminating the need to drain your noodles! One pot wonder lovers rejoice! Prepare it in a Dutch oven and you’re all set to go directly from stove to tabletop in less than 30 minutes.
Here’s the recipe and instructions:
- ¾ pound Italian pork sausage (I used a basil flavored sausage)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes (I used the one flavored with basil and garlic)
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 1 box (12 ounces) Barilla Pronto pasta noodles (I used Rotini but wanted Penne)
- ½ cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
- In a medium sized Dutch oven (or large skillet that will hold up 3 cups liquid) over medium high heat, brown the Italian sausage, breaking apart and crumbling as you cook. Drain if necessary and return to pot. Add the water, undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce and pasta, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil. Cover; reduce heat and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes until pasta is tender. You may need to stir occasionally to ensure nothing is sticking.
- Right before serving, sprinkle the Mozzarella cheese and allow to melt. Serve immediately.
Since you’ve cut down the time preparing your main entree, you have all sorts of extra time to put together the incredibly comforting French Bread Hot Crab Dip. What I love most about this dip, is you serve it straight from the loaf of bread. Arrange the remaining bread pieces around the loaf and add some crackers for dipping variety.
I like grabbing some of the Pepperidge Farm Cracker trio packages. Lots of variety without having to purchase multiple boxes of crackers.
While grabbing the crackers, I also grabbed a box of Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Cookie Collection. I absolutely love the Pepperidge Farm shortbread cookies and knew immediately that the chocolate collection would make the most incredible pie crust for my Tiramisu Pie. And let me just tell, they did not disappoint! This pie is getting its own blog post, too because holy heavens, it’s incredible.
Here’s a peek:
The cookies, however, can be easily served on their own with some after dinner coffee and no one would think any less of you. And, besides the branding on the cookie is quite cute.
Now that your impossibly easy menu is out of the way, you’ll need wine for your Tuscan inspired meal. Reds pair well with pasta dishes, and I provided a variety; a Merlot, a Cabernet Sauvignon, and a Pinot Noir.
I also created these fun little favor tags and wrapped a couple of bottles for take home favors. Everyone appreciates extra wine during the holidays and it’s an easy way of showing your appreciation for your pal’s friendship.
Since our meal isn’t overly sophisticated, I kept the table decor simple and casual, too. Grocery store flowers become instantly more elegant when separated into multi sized glass containers- mason jars, vintage milk bottles, etc. Just try to keep your flowers relatively low in height so you can see across the table while chatting with your guests.
Wrapping your menu card with a bit of bakers twine with added greenery provides a bit of color to your table and shows that while you didn’t spend a ton of time and effort on your meal, you thought enough of your guests to create a few personal details. And a menu card makes even the simplest meals feel more fancy.
Now, all that’s left is to enjoy the day while sharing stories with those people in your life you are most thankful for!
Are you still here?!?! Told ya it was going to be a lengthy post!
Be sure to stop by the Simple Entertaining hub at Walmart for upcoming wine tastings, and Barilla & Pepperidge Farm demos during the months of November and December. Most everything featured today was purchased there- including the scrapbook paper used for the menu cards. A true one stop shop for all of your holiday entertaining needs.
Any plans for hosting a Friendsgiving of your own? What’s going on your menu?