Archive for the ‘Italian’ Category

Jamie Oliver is tops in my book. I can’t help but respect and admire anyone who is that passionate about issues that are important to him and puts his money where his mouth is. He goes out on a limb for what he believes in – sometimes that pays off and sometimes it doesn’t, but the important thing is that he doesn’t give up just because something doesn’t work. He’s one of the few celebrity chefs out there who I’d love to meet as a person, not just for the great food he makes. How many young twenty-somethings suddenly achieve huge fame and fortune and promptly start a foundation to help young people in a bad place turn their life around? Big respect.

And have I mentioned his food yet? Simple, good ingredients, recipes that are heavy on the fun and light on the fussing; perfect for a Friday night. This comes from one of his biggest selling books in Australia, Jamie’s Italy. It came together quickly and was so damn yummy! The chilli flakes are my addition and they were just perfect on yet another freezing Melbourne winter night! It’s a simple pasta that’s done in the time it takes to cook the pasta itself; a delicious basil almond pesto lightened with the addition of fresh cherry tomatoes.

Serves 2

200 gm dried spaghetti

salt & cracked black pepper

good pinch of chilli flakes

75 gm almonds

1 clove garlic

2 large handfuls of fresh basil, leaves picked (1 supermarket bunch)

75 gm freshly grated parmesan

good olive oil

1 punnet cherry tomatoes

Put the spaghetti on to cook in plenty of boiling salted water.

Meanwhile, warm the almonds in a dry frying pan and then whack them in a food processor. Process until they are finely chopped. Add the basil, garlic, parmesan, chilli flakes and a good glug of olive oil. Process again until the mixture comes together. Remove to a bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.

Squish the cherry tomatoes with your hands and add them and their juices to the rough pesto; taste again and adjust seasoning as necessary with some extra olive oil to loosen the mixture if needed.

Drain cooked pasta and return to saucepan; toss through the pesto tomato mixture and serve.


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This pasta is so easy to make and is perfect for winter; texture is provided by sage leaves and crumbled pork sausage. It’s one of those dishes where the simplicity of the ingredients leads to full and lingering flavours. This could be made vegetarian by leaving out the sausage and substituting with some toasted pine nuts.

Extra virgin olive oil

1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes

1 bulb fennel, outer leaves removed and chopped

1 head garlic, cloves separated and chopped into halves or thirds

2 tsp sugar

salt & cracked black pepper, to season

1 Italian pork sausage, skin removed and flesh crumbled

40 sage leaves

400gm egg fettucine or papadelle pasta, cooked al dente

Parmesan, grated

1. Pre heat oven to 190 degrees Celsius. In an oven tray, toss together the pumpkin, fennel and garlic with the sugar and salt and pepper to taste. Add a good drizzle of olive oil and toss again. Roast for 30 minutes or until pumpkin is starting to caremelize and is lovely and brown outside.

2. Put pasta on to cook in a large pan of salted water.

3. Meanwhile, heat a generous couple of glugs of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the sausage mince; once this is starting to brown, add the sage leaves and turn the heat down to low. There should be enough oil in the pan for the leaves to fry and crisp up nicely. Once sage is crisp and sausage is browned, remove from the heat.

4. Drain pasta and return to pan over low heat. Tip the frying pan with the sausage and sage gently so that the oil pools down one end and can be spooned up and added to the pasta. Toss through. Add the roasted veggies and toss through with a handful of grated parmesan. Add salt & cracked pepper to taste.

5. Serve pasta and top with the pork and sage mixture and more parmesan, if desired.

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Grilled Piadina Recipe

This unleavened Italian flatbread is speedy and fun to make and can be filled with whatever ingredients you have on hand. The dough can be made quickly in the food processor and rests while you prepare your filling ingredients. I can highly recommend a filling of grilled chicken breast, basil pesto, semi sundried tomatoes and cheese, or a neapolitan-style filling of fresh mozzarella, slices of tomatoes and basil leaves. These are surprisingly filling; the dough recipe makes four piadinas which will feed 3 people comfortably. The recipe is from a book which has transformed my pizza-making life, Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas. (more…)

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This carb-elicious delight is an Atkins devotee’s worst nightmare and secret desire all rolled into one. Seriously, what could be better than a plate of delicious carbs topped with crispy yet tender herbed carbs? It’s incredibly easy and can be made vegetarian by using vegetable stock rather than chicken. Mmmm, carbs. This recipe is slightly adapted from one on Recipezaar, which is in turn adapted from a book called “Wild Sides”. Mmmm, adapted carbs. The one thing I don’t recommend doing is using red wine instead of white which I have done once in desperation –the resultant colour was not really that attractive, although it still tasted great. How could it not – it’s carbs!

Serves 2 hungry carb-lovers

3 potatoes

olive oil

dried thyme

1 large onion, sliced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup fresh sage leaves

200gm fettuccini or other long pasta

¼ cup white wine

¼ cup chicken stock

sea salt

fresh ground black pepper

1/2 large lemon, juice of

parmesan cheese or pecorino cheese, shaved

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Thinly slice the potatoes and place in a single layer on one or two lightly oiled baking trays. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme (you want some on every slice) and some salt & pepper. Cook until starting to brown – time will vary depending on your oven and how thinly the potatoes are sliced, so keep a close eye on them.

Add the pasta to a large saucepan of boiling salted water and cook until al dente.

While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat, add the onion and garlic, and sauté until softened.

Add the sage and sauté for 1 minute or until soft.

Add the drained pasta and toss to combine.

Pour in the stock and wine, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and toss together for 2 minutes.

Add the potato slices and lemon juice and toss for 1 minute further or until the liquid has reduced.

Shave parmesan over to serve.

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Sometimes I find a recipe that looks too simple and easy to be true. So few ingredients, such basic technique – surely it couldn’t yield a sauce with so many flavour layers, a sauce that inspires a desire to shove my head right into the blender and lick any remaining drops from the blades? You know you’re onto a winner when possible mutilation becomes secondary to having just one more taste… Although we ate the sauce simply on spaghetti with parmesan, I also thought that this would make one of the best pizza sauces I’d ever had. It’s got the sort of flavours that inspires you to think what else you could use it for – I’d recommend doubling the recipe at the very least – after all, its not every day you make a Napoli sauce this good.

The recipe is from an upcoming cookbook to be published in April 2010 called Just Add Spice. The book not only looks lush and stunning but actually has recipes in it that you’d want to make – an unusual combination in cookbooks these days. When I first mixed up the spices that went into this amazing sauce, I was doubtful – the mix just didn’t smell ‘right’ for a tomato sauce. But I don’t mind being proved wrong by a delicious end result! (more…)

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WARNING – deeply unauthentic and delicious recipe ahead

The original title of this recipe is Spag Bol al Dante which is not only a witty and amusing play on words (something I always appreciate) but the original instructions that go with the recipe are hilarious and definitely worth a read. Head over to Progressive Dinner Party and check out Nabakov’s devilled kidneys a la Sherlock Holmes recipe as well, it’s just brilliant and has very clever illustrations. I’ve made this sauce many times and it’s my weeknight go-to Bolognese recipe. Quite a few friends have also had this at our place and it’s always gone down a treat. Obviously if you’re not spicily-inclined, cut the chilli-garlic sauce down to ½ a spoonful for a subtle warmth. I just love this and can eat bucketloads of it – it’s actually my favourite Bolognese ever, even more so than any delicate slow cooked authentic version. I am still awaiting the lightening bolt from the moustachioed Italian Food Gods to strike me down in righteous wrath and indignation, but I’m hoping that they’ll hold off til I’ve had just one more bowl… (more…)

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I love coming home and cooking – I’m one of those nutters who genuinely can’t wait to cook the evening meal. But after being under the weather for a couple of days there is nothing better than having a glass of wine poured for me and an utterly delicious dinner created. This is a regular in our house – it’s more of a method than a recipe per se, as the ingredients can vary according to your taste. The main thing is not to overload the pizza! You want it crispy and crunchy, not… well, flaccid. Or floppy. Or limp. So if you’re going to add some cooked sausage or feta or whatever other topping you desire, crumble it into small pieces and add it in moderation. Let the glory of the garlicky base shine through! (more…)

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