Italian celebration

Italian celebration

Nothing says spring quite like the Italian celebration of carnevale, which marks the run-up to Lent. We’ve recreated the festivities for you to enjoy at home

riot of bright colours and bold flavours, the Italian festival of carnevale is traditionally the last chance for everyone to let their hair down before Lent. We’ve drawn inspiration to celebrate some of Co-op’s easy Italian bites and convenient ready meals, along with recipes for a small dish and a sparkling cocktail. Plating everything up in the style of street food makes it ideal for enjoying with family at home over the long bank holiday weekend. Salute! 

Polpette with dip

Polpette is the Italian word for meatballs, and these go well with our fruity fizz

Makes 30 • Ready in 40 mins

  • 100ml Co-op semi-skimmed milk
  • 100g breadcrumbs, made with leftover bread
  • 2 tbsp Co-op olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 Co-op Irresistible smoked back bacon rashers, chopped
  • 500g pack Co-op 5% fat British beef mince
  • 1 Co-op British free range egg, lightly beaten
  • ½ x 25g pack basil, chopped
  • 400g can Co-op Italian chopped tomatoes
  • ½ tsp chilli flakes (optional)
  1. Pour the milk over the breadcrumbs and set aside to soak. 
  2. Heat half the oil in a nonstick frying pan and cook the onion for 5-6 mins, until soft but not coloured. Season, add the garlic and cook for another minute. Remove half the mixture and set aside. Put the chopped bacon in the pan and cook for 4-5 mins, until crisp.
  3. Transfer to a large bowl, then add the beef mince, egg, breadcrumb mixture and half the chopped basil. With slightly damp hands, mix until well combined, then start to form into polpette, about the size of ping pong balls. Transfer to a lined baking tray as you go — you should get around 30.
  4. Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Heat the remaining oil in the pan and fry the polpette for a couple of minutes, until browned all over — you may need to do this in batches. Put them back on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 8-10 mins, until cooked through.
  5. Meanwhile, for the dip, return the reserved onion mixture to the pan, along with the chopped tomatoes, chilli (if using) and most of the remaining basil, scraping up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Simmer for 6-8 mins, until reduced to a dipping consistency, then transfer to a serving bowl.
  6. Garnish the polpette with the rest of the basil, and serve alongside the dip, with cocktail sticks so people can help themselves.

Grapefruit spritz (VG) (GF)

This pretty cocktail includes an Italian fizz, so it’s just right for the occasion

Serves 4 • Ready in 5 mins  

  • Ice cubes
  • 1 grapefruit, broken into segments, peel reserved
  • 500ml Co-op pink grapefruit juice
  • 500ml Co-op Irresistible prosecco
  • 500ml Co-op soda water
  • Fresh mint, to garnish
  1. Put some ice into four glasses, then place a segment of grapefruit in each one, lightly squeezing to release a little juice.
  2. Divide the pink grapefruit juice between the glasses, then add the prosecco and stir lightly. Top up with the soda water.
  3. Cut four strips from the reserved peel and carefully hold over a flame for around 30 seconds to release the oil, then place a piece on the edge of each glass. Bash the mint leaves on a hard surface then add to the drinks to finish. Bellissimo!

Energy per glass 651kJ/155kcal.
Alcohol units per glass 1.4*

 Approximate, based on Co-op branded alcohol where possible


1. Corte Molino Rosé Prosecco

2. Co-op Sundried Tomatoes in Oil, 280g

3. Co-op Irresistible Beef Ragù Pappardelle, 360g

4. Co-op Spinach & Ricotta Tortelloni, 300g

5. Co-op Irresistible Spaghetti Carbonara, 360g

6. Co-op Almonds, 100g

7. Co-op Mixed Olive Trio, 240g

8. Salami Milano from Co-op Antipasto Selection, 120g

9. Co-op Irresistible Pesto alla Genovese, 190g

10. Prosciutto Crudo from Co-op Antipasto Selection, 120g

11. Co-op Mozzarella, 125g

Raise a glass

What better accompaniment to an Italian-influenced feast than this fresh, light fizz?