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Italian Heritage Month - Gallo Salame Chef Catherine Interview

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 Posted by Rita A

Mamma Mia, October is Italian Heritage Month. Although it is the end of the month I still wanted to honor my heritage. Yes I am part Italian. I grew up with many pasta dinners. To this day our Christmas meal is roast beef and Lasagna. I often crave a plate of pasta with a rich meaty sauce. I remember the six course meals at my grandmother's house. She always had antipasto and their was always salame. Gallo Salame is proud to be part of Italian Heritage Month.

I recently had the pleasure of learning more about Gallo salame products. In 1910 Louis Gabriati, a salame cure master, founded Gallo Salame in San Francisco. He sold his company in 1979 to Sara Lee foods. Today, Gallo Salame products are exclusively produced in the San Francisco Bay area at a plant located in San Lorenzo. There is near a century of history in the Gallo brand. I was also introduced to Chef Catherine De Orio. More about Chef Catherine:

Sara Lee Chef Catherine De Orio is a leading food expert who regularly appears on network affiliates and media outlets across the country to share her culinary expertise. In addition, she has also made several appearances on The Today Show.

Wanting to learn more, I had the opportunity to ask Chef Catherine a few questions:

• How long have you been a chef?

I’ve been a trained chef for about 4 years working with Sara Lee for the past 3 years. I have been cooking since I was a small child. I always joke that my nana didn’t care if I learned to read or write, but I needed to learn to cook!

• What was it like to live and learn in Venice, Italy?

Living and cooking in Venice was magical. I was exposed to fresh, rich Italian flavors and spices, but also a style of cooking that was deeply rooted in old world authenticity. I was able to soak in this Italian culture, as well as expand my palate by being part of an international supper club where, each week, someone would host a dinner featuring a new cuisine from their home country. My exposure to new things and the incredible culture while living in Venice has made me very open to new things and continues to spark my creativity when I am cooking. I’m always inspired by the cuisine of other countries, especially Italy.

• What was your favorite Italian meal when you were growing up?

Wow, that is a tough question. I’ve always loved combining pasta with meat and so my nana’s pasta with neck bone gravy and a side of sausage and peppers is my favorite - but her homemade ravioli is a close second.

• What is your go-to quick Italian meal for today's busy families?

I like making quick pastas with big Italian flavor. I use tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and then add some meat, like a quality salame with a true blend of Italian herbs and spices for that traditional flavor. I’m always on the go (like most families these days), so I find this infusion of protein keeps my energy up throughout the day and can be eaten on the go.

• What ingredient do you like to use for the best Italian flavor?

I look for products that incorporate Italian spices, like oregano and garlic and then add them to a dish for that classic Italian feel. I like using Gallo Salame because it has that true authentic flavor and is perfect to top on pizza, sandwich or even toss into a salad or pasta dish.

• What is your favorite dessert?

I like simple desserts where the flavors of the ingredients shine through. Fruit pies, fresh berries or figs on yogurt or cake, drizzled with honey.

• What do you put on your pizza? Homemade gourmet or order it?

Even a chef gets take-out sometimes! However, that said, I usually doctor up a pizza delivery to my own liking by adding some of my own ingredients. One of the simplest things to add is an Italian meat like salame or pepperoni. It infuses any plain old pizza with authentic flavor.
When I do make my own pizza, I always make thin crust (yes, I’m from Chicago, but prefer thin crust to deep dish!) and use fresh sautéed tomatoes in lieu of pizza sauce and I add high quality meats, cheeses and fresh vegetables. And I like to sprinkle arugula on top to add a nice freshness to each bite. My favorite current flavor combination is salame, asiago cheese and artichoke hearts.

• What is your favorite Sara Lee product?

That’s a tough call because I find the products so versatile and easy to fit into a fast-paced lifestyle. I really like Gallo Salame and Jimmy Dean fresh sausage in the Hot flavor. I like a little spice in everything whether I’m adding it to soup, adding it to an omelet or tossing it in pasta. And of course Sara Lee pound cake: I always seem to find new ways to use it and its always a crowd pleaser!

Thanks to Sara Lee and Gallo I was able to sample different Gallo Salame products. I have enjoyed Gallo Italian Dry salame as far back as I can remember. I was thrilled to taste the Light Italian Dry Salame. It was very delicious. The taste of salame was not compromised by the less fat recipe. My entire family found it so scrumptious they enjoyed it as much as the original flavor. It is less greasy but still has the great Gallo taste. The lower calories make it perfect for calorie counters to still have salame. Next I tried the 75% less fat pepperoni. Very enjoyable. This would work nicely in salads for a little zing.

Here are three recipes courtesy of Gallo:

Salame, Goat Cheese and Arugula Salad
Serves 4
Ingredients Quantity

Gallo Salame; cut into 8 triangles 8 slices
Arugula; washed and trimmed 8 cups
Goat cheese ¼ cup
Red wine vinegar 2 tablespoons
Olive oil 1/3 cup
Dijon mustard 1 teaspoon
Garlic, minced 1/2 teaspoon

1. In a small bowl combine vinegar, mustard and garlic
2. Pouring in a slow, continuous stream, whisk in olive oil.
3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
4. In a medium bowl toss together arugula and salami.
5. Toss with dressing.
6. Sprinkle with goat cheese.

Crispy Salame, Goat Cheese and Arugula Rigatoni
Serves 4
Ingredients Quantity

Gallo Salame; sliced in half and then cut into ¼ inch slices 8 slices
Rigatoni; cooked al dente 8 oz
Arugula; washed and trimmed 4 cups
Goat cheese ¼ cup
Olive oil 3/4 tablespoon
Garlic, minced 1 ½ teaspoons
Black pepper, freshly ground
Crushed red pepper (optional) ¼-1/2 teaspoon

1. Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat.
2. Place salami in pan and sauté until crispy, approximately 5-8 minutes.
3. Add olive oil, garlic and crushed red pepper to the pan. Saute until fragrant, approximately 3 minutes.
4. Toss in arugula and stir until wilted, approximately 1-2 minutes. Season to taste with salt.
5. Add cooked rigatoni to pan and toss.
6. Top with goat cheese and black pepper. Serve immediately.

Salame, Goat Cheese and Arugula Pizza
Serves 4
Ingredients Quantity

Gallo Salame; cut into 8 triangles 4 slices
Ready-made pizza crust; 8-inch 1
Arugula; cleaned and trimmed 4 cups
Canned diced tomatoes ½ cup
Goat cheese ¼ cup
Olive oil ½ tablespoons
Garlic, minced 1/2 teaspoon
Oregano ¼ teaspoon

1. Preheat oven to temperature indicated on pizza crust package.
2. In a small sauté pan, warm olive oil over medium heat.
3. Add garlic and sauté until fragrant, approximately 3-5 minutes.
4. Add diced tomatoes and cook until softened, approximately 5-7 minutes.
5. Add oregano and season to taste with salt.
6. Sprinkle salami evenly over top of pizza.
7. Top with sautéed tomatoes and then sprinkle with cheese.
8. Bake per pizza crust instructions until crust is golden brown.
9. Sprinkle fresh arugula over top of pizza and serve immediately.

For more Italian recipe ideas visit Gallo recipes. Share Gallo Salame with your family. Savor the flavor of Italian Heritage Month.

Many thanks to Chef Catherine for sharing her time. Thanks to Makenzie, Sara Lee and Gallo for providing the samples for this review.

Disclosure: I received gratis samples for this review. No monetary compensation was offered or accepted. The opinions above are my own. Others experience may vary.