Pasta Salad with Zucchini, Tomatoes, Basil and Capers


Serves 4-6

  • 4 medium sized zucchini, sliced very thinly
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded, and cut into 1cm chunks
  • 150g pack Meredith Dairy plain Chèvre, crumbled into small pieces
  • 400g Fusilli pasta
  • 50g capers
  • 1tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 handful basil leaves, gently torn into small pieces
  • 25g shaved Parmesan
  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, a pinch each of salt and pepper in a large bowl, and add the zucchini. This will soften, and add flavour to the zucchini while you cook the fusilli.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the fusilli until al dente.

Drain, and immediately toss with the zucchini. Now gently add the tomatoes, Chèvre, capers, chilli flakes and half of the basil.

Spoon onto a platter, season with salt and pepper, and scatter the rest of the basil leaves and the shaved Parmesan on top.

Serve at room temperature.

Spaghetti with Cavolo Nero Flowers and ‘Nduja


Serves 2

  • 200g spaghetti
  • 150g cavolo nero flowers, rinsed
  • 2 bulbs young garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 tbsp ‘Nduja
  • 2 oil packed anchovy fillets
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Parmesan to serve

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and throw in the cavolo nero flowers for just a minute. Take them out with a slotted spoon and put aside. Put the spaghetti into the boiling water, and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, in a mortar and pestle, pound together the ‘Nduja, anchovy fillets and butter. Before draining the pasta, take out ¾ cup cooking water from the pot, and pour ½ cup into the ‘Nduja mix, stirring well to combine. Reserve the rest of the water to use later if necessary. Drain the pasta , return pot to a low heat, add 2 tbsp olive oil and add the garlic. Gently sauté over a low heat for a couple of minutes, add the ‘Nduja mix and simmer for a couple of minutes until slightly reduced. Return flowers and pasta to the pot, tossing until well combined and coated with the sauce. Add the rest of the water if necessary, the lemon juice, black pepper to season, and serve in warm bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, and add grated Parmesan.

Spaghetti with Smoked Salmon, Roasted Fennel and Persian Feta


Serves 2

  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 150g smoked salmon, cut into thick ribbons
  • 100g Persian feta
  • 2tbsp tiny capers
  • Juice and grated rind of one lemon
  • 200g spaghetti
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3tbsp cream
  • 1tbsp butter
  • 2-3tbsp chopped parsley
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with baking paper, lay the fennel on top, drizzle with a little olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Put into the oven, and roast for 10-15 minutes. It should just crisp and caramelise, not burn. Take out and set aside. Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Cook pasta until just al dente, drain, reserving about ¼ cup of cooking water. In the pasta pot, melt butter with the cream, and return pasta to the pot with the cooking water. Quickly toss the pasta to coat. Take off heat, add fennel, lemon rind, capers, juice of half a lemon, parsley and salmon. Taste, adding more lemon juice if necessary, and spoon into warm bowls, scatter over Persian feta, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with olive oil. Serve.

Veal and Pork Ragù with Cinnamon, Nutmeg and Brandy


Serves 6

  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 1 large brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 75g butter
  • 3 fresh bay leaves
  • ½ cinnamon stick
  • 500g minced veal/pork
  • 250-300g mixed mushrooms, torn into small pieces
  • Grated nutmeg
  • Pinch chilli flakes
  • Sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup chopped, canned tomatoes
  • ½ cup brandy
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2.5 cups chicken stock
  • Small bunch parsley, chopped

Melt half the butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the chopped vegetables, bay leaves and cinnamon. Gently cook, covered, for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are soft, but not coloured. Remove the lid, turn up the heat, and add the pork/veal mince. Cook it until it starts to release its juices, breaking it up to prevent it from clumping together, add the mushrooms, and cook until meat and mushrooms start to brown and caramelise. Add a good grating of nutmeg, a decent pinch of chilli flakes, sea salt, pepper, and the tomatoes. After a couple of minutes, pour in the brandy and wine. Stir and scrape up all the sticky bits from the bottom of the pan, and when the wine has reduced a little, pour in 2 cups of stock, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 1.5 hours. Remove the cinnamon, add the remaining ½ cup stock, remaining butter, and chopped parsley. Simmer for 15 - 30 minutes, check seasonings, and serve with pasta, or polenta.

Spaghetti with Tomato and Oregano Dressing


Serves 4

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and cut in half
  • 600g ripe tomatoes, a variety is nice
  • 100ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Handful of oregano leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 400g spaghetti
  • Parmesan cheese for serving

Start by bringing a large pot of salted water to the boil, and rub the inside of your serving bowl with the cut surfaces of the garlic. Now cut up your tomatoes. I didn’t skin them, but as I had a variety of shapes and sizes, I cut the little ones into small pieces and didn’t bother about the seeds. The bigger ones, I cut in half, squeezed out the seeds, and then sliced them up into little pieces. Once done, pop them in the bowl and dress with the olive oil, most of the oregano, salt and pepper and set aside while you cook the pasta.

When the water is boiling, throw in your pasta and cook until al dente. Drain well, then tip into the serving bowl and toss quickly through the sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining oregano leaves, and serve with Parmesan if desired.

Winter Pesto


Serves 4 – 6

  • 1 large leek, trimmed, halved, washed, then cut into chunks
  • Or, 1 large brown onion, peeled and cut into 6 pieces
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 large handfuls curly kale or cavolo nero, stalks removed and washed well
  • Approximately 100ml extra-virgin olive oil
  • 500g dried pasta
  • 100g parmesan cheese, finely grated, plus extra for serving

Put a large pan of salted water on to boil. Once boiling, drop in the leek or onion and garlic cloves. Let them cook for 3 minutes then add your kale or cavolo nero and cook for another 31/2 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon remove the vegetables to a blender, retaining the water in the pan. Add your olive oil and blend until you have a vivid green purée the same consistency as thick cream, only adding a spoonful of cooking water to thin if necessary. Taste, season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper and put aside.

Orecchiette con Gamberi


My tomato sauce – you will only need about 2 – 3 tbsp.

First, finely chop 1 brown onion, 1 stick of celery and 2 cloves of garlic. Soften over a low heat in about 2 tbsp. butter – not olive oil! This makes the sauce gentler and sweeter which is what I want. When soft, but not brown, add 2 – 3 anchovy fillets. Cook slowly until they melt into the onion mix. You won’t taste the anchovies, they just add a little ‘something’. Add a 400 g tin of crushed tomatoes and 1 fresh bay leaf and slowly cook until the sauce is thick. Season with sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper, remove bay leaf and puree in food processor.

This sauce also works well to enhance other dishes. For example, a beetroot risotto served with a grilled duck breast. Just add 1/4 to 1/3 cup to the beetroot mix, it gives it another dimension and adds complexity.

This will serve 2 – 3 people.

  • 200g Orecchiette pasta
  • 500g large prawns
  • 2 – 3tbsp tomato sauce
  • A few strands saffron
  • Grated rind and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Grated rind and juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • Very good extra virgin olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to the boil. Shell prawns and cut into 3 pieces. Each piece should be slightly bigger than the orecchiette. The aim is after cooking, the pasta and prawns will be roughly the same size. Salt your cooking water and add a little olive oil. When boiling, throw in your pasta and stir. Just before it is ready, about 10 minutes; take out ¼ cup of the cooking water and add the saffron to it. Drain pasta in colander. Put about 3 tbsp olive oil into the pot, heat and throw in the prawns. Toss over a medium heat and add garlic cooking just a minute or two. Add pasta, saffron water, tomato sauce, lemon and orange juices, and rind. This will take only a minute to come together and the sauce will thicken. Season with sea salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil as you serve.

Tomato, Fennel Lasagne with Pistachio Aillade


Serves 6

You will need

  • 3 sheets of fresh pasta dough. (Mine measured 22cm x 28cm as this was the size of my dish.)
  • 300g fresh ricotta cheese
  • 50-70g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 3tbsp butter
  • The roasted vegetables
  • béchamel sauce
  • 2/3 of the Aillade
  • Roasted vegetables
  • 800g small Roma tomatoes
  • 3 bulbs fennel
  • 3 large brown onions
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 180C. Slice tomatoes in half, lay on baking tray, scatter with thyme sprigs, sea salt, pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

Cut onions and fennel into thick slices and lay on another tray. Scatter with thyme sprigs, sea salt, pepper, and drizzle with olive oil.

Put both trays in the oven, tomato tray in top half of oven, onions and fennel below it. Roast for 1 hour, turning the onions and fennel over after ½ hour. After 1 hour the onions and fennel should be cooked and nicely caramelised, if so take them out and let cool. The tomatoes will need another ½ hour, take them out, and let cool. Discard thyme sprigs.

Béchamel Sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 500ml full cream milk
  • Freshly grated nutmeg, sea salt and black pepper

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat and then add the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts to bubble and lighten in colour. Continue to cook for a minute or two, but don’t allow the mixture to brown. Now, switch to a hand whisk and add your cold milk, little by little, until it has all been absorbed and the mixture starts to thicken. Continue to cook for several minutes over a low heat, whisking constantly, until the béchamel is thick and smooth. Set aside.

Pistachio Aillade

I have used David Lebovitz’s recipe, but used less garlic, and added a little orange oil to the mix.

Be sure to use fresh pistachios, I store mine in the fridge after buying them.

I also made this in my food processor, just be sure to stop the machine a few times to scrape down the sides to make sure everything is being incorporated properly.

  • 110g shelled pistachios, unsalted
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, green germ removed, and minced
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 3tbsp water
  • 90-125ml extra virgin olive oil
  • A splash of brandy
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1tsp orange, extra virgin olive oil. Optional
  • Preheat oven to 180C.

Spread pistachios on a small baking sheet and put in the oven for 3 minutes, just enough to warm them through. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes, and then put into the bowl of a food processor with the minced garlic. Pulse-chop until pistachios are in little pieces. Scrape down the sides, and slowly add the water, and then 90ml of the extra virgin olive oil. Add a splash of brandy, the orange zest, salt, and the orange oil if you have it. Taste, and add the rest of the extra virgin olive oil if it seems too thick. Set aside for the flavours to mellow for a couple of hours, or in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Now, bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and place a large bowl of iced water next to the stove. When the water is boiling, add a few drops of olive oil to it to stop the pasta from sticking. Cook the pasta rectangles for 2 minutes, lift out with a slotted spoon and immerse in cold water, then lay on tea towels to dry. Preheat oven to 180C and grease your baking dish with 1tbsp of butter, then smear with 3tbsp of the béchamel sauce and lay a sheet of the pasta on top. Spread 1/3 of the remaining béchamel sauce on to the pasta, then spread the caramelised onions on top, followed by half of the tomatoes. Dollop spoonfuls of ricotta and the aillade around the tomatoes, sprinkle with Parmesan, and top with another sheet of pasta. Repeat now with the fennel, tomatoes, ricotta, aillade and parmesan, and top with the remaining sheet of pasta. Spread the last of the béchamel sauce on top, sprinkle with Parmesan to cover, and dot with 2tbsp of butter. Bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the surface is golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Spaghettini with Garlic Flowers, Chilli and Anchovies


Serves 4

  • 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch garlic flowers. Between 5-7, flowers removed, and torn roughly apart, the tender part of stem finely sliced
  • 3-5 anchovies, chopped finely. I love anchovies and use the Ortiz brand, add less if you wish
  • 1-2 dried chillies, crumbled
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 350g Spaghettini
  • extra olive oil to drizzle, lemon halves and freshly grated Parmesan to serve

For the Pangrattato

  • 2-3tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 thick slices day old ciabatta loaf, torn into small pieces.

First make the pangrattato. Preheat the oven to 180C, put the butter onto a baking sheet and place in the oven to melt. When melted, add the olive oil and the bread, and toss until coated in the butter and oil. Place in the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown and crunchy. Take out and drain on kitchen paper.

Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil, and start to make the sauce. Heat a medium sized fry pan over low heat. Add the olive oil, the finely sliced garlic flower stems, and the anchovies, and cook gently for a few minutes. You want them to soften, not fry. After about 5 minutes, add the chillies and black pepper. Remove from the heat, add the lemon zest, juice and parsley. You may also need a little more extra virgin olive oil. Cook the spaghettini in boiling salted water until done. Drain, keeping back a little of the pasta cooking water, and toss with the sauce until each strand is coated, adding 3tbsp of the water and half the torn garlic flowers. Finally, mix in the pangratttato, pile into warm bowls, and scatter the rest of the flowers on top. I can’t help myself, I always drizzle with a little more olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and dust with freshly grated Parmesan. Enjoy.