A super easy risotto, made a bit more magical by adding foraged herbs - I really recommend using foraged ones or at least herbs from your local farmer's market (so not the usual parsley and company). I made a small selection of agilo ursino, silene, malva leaves, marjoram, ajucche and a few campanula stems. The idea is to make a risotto alla parmigiana or in bianco and add herbs both halfway through cooking at with the infused butter to top off the dish.
1. Place the rice in a large, non-stick pan on medium-high heat. Stir every minute until toasted. To check if it is toasted, hold a few grains between your fingers - when it becomes too hot to hold you'll know it is ready. Pour in the white wine and let it evaporate almost completely.
2. Begin adding the hot broth ladle by ladle, until rice is al dente. I prefer tasting the rice as I go and not putting a timer on (in any case, risotto takes roughly 20 minutes).
3. In the meantime place half the butter in a small pot along with 5 or 6 herb leaves, turn the gas onto low and let the butter melt and brown slowly, then turn off and place to one side.
4. Dice the remaining herbs extremely finely, helping yourself with a crescent-shaped chopping knife (mezzaluna), then add them to the risotto roughly halfway through cooking.
5. Once the risotto is of your desired al dented-ness, turn off the heat, adding an extra ladle of broth if it seems too dry. Place a handful of parmigiana and the remaining butter in the pan and begin mixing vigorously with a wooden spoon until both are combined. Add pepper to taste and plate.
6. Drizzle over each dish the brown butter and herbs (reheating it quickly if it solidified). Serve!
Lasagne, whether they're with ragù or veggie, are extremely comforting, part of that comforting deriving from the long process needed to make them. I would recommend preparing the ragù the day before, and the fresh pasta and béchamel just before you assemble the dish.
1. Make the ragù the day before or at least the morning of your chosen lasagna day (if you're making them for dinner). Follow my ragù recipe here.
2. Place the flour onto a wooden surface and form a well in the middle, crack in the whole eggs and being whisking them slowly with a fork. Little by little, begin incorporating some flour and whisking. Once it becomes too thick to handle with a fork, begin kneading it with your hands, for roughly 10 minutes, until you achieve a smooth and compact dough. Wrap it in cling film and set it to one side as you prepare the béchamel.
3. Melt the butter in a deep pot and begin adding the flour, little by little, mixing with a whisk to make sure there are no lumps. Turn the heat up and pour in the milk little by little, mixing with a wooden spoon. Once you've poured in all the milk, keep mixing until the sauce becomes denser. The consistency you're aiming for is when you draw a line with your finger on the back of the wooden spoon covered in sauce and the line stays clear. Turn off the heat and add in three handfuls of grated parmigiano and a sprinkle of nutmeg, mixing well.
4. Roll out the dough with a pasta machine the thinnest possible, then measure the length of the baking tray you're using and cut pasta accordingly.
5. Bring a pot of water to boil, add salt and begin cooking each piece of pasta, by itself, for 3 minutes each. Once cooked, scoop out of the pot and place on a kitchen towel to dry off.
6. As the pasta boils, grate your mozzarella and have it ready for use.
7. Once all your pasta is cooked, you can begin assembling your lasagna. In a bowl, mix together 3 tablespoons of ragù and 3 of béchamel, then spread it evenly over the bottom of the baking tray. Cover well with the pasta, then add another mix of béchamel and ragù, and 2 handfuls of grated mozzarella. Cover with pasta again. Repeat the process for at least 5 layers of pasta, then add béchamel, ragù, mozzarella and some grated parmigiano on top of the last layer.
8. Preheat the over to 180° Celsius and bake for 25 minutes.
One of the most ancient forms of pasta that originates from an area called Lunigiana, on the border between Liguria and Toscana. The traditional recipe requirers the use of the testo, a cast iron pan placed directly on a chestnut wood fire, but a cast iron skillet on your hob at home will work too.
200g plain flour
water at room temperature
click here for the cavolo nero pesto or here for traditional pesto recipe
knob of butter
1. Place the flour and a pinch of salt into a bowl and start pouring in water until you achieve a thick consistency (like pancake mix texture). Mix it all thoroughly so you achieve a smooth and lump free consistency.
2. Place the butter in a cast iron skillet on high heat and, once it has stopped bubbling, pour half the batter into it and wait for it to bubble. Once bubbles start to form flip the testarolo over and cook it for another minute.
3. Place all the round testaroli on a chopping board and cut them first vertically all the way through and then diagonally - the aim is to create diamond shaped pieces of pasta.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil, add a handful of rock salt and throw in the testaroli. Once they rise to the surface, drain them with a slotted spoon and serve with fresh pesto.
I tend to eat raw tomatoes for most of the summer, especially when I don't have a lot of time. This soup is a great alternative to a cold salad, it is healthy, easy to make and SO delicious. Honestly. After making it I said to myself "if I ever open a restaurant, this is going on the menu".
4 round courgettes
1/2 a cube stock
3 leaves fresh mint
100g sheep's milk ricotta
a handful of cherry tomatoes
1 garlic clove
salt and pepper
teaspoon of sugar
1. Dice the onion finely and place it in a deep pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil. Turn the heat onto low and let the onion soften. Fill a small saucepan with water, add half the stock cube and bring to boil.
2. In the meantime, cut the courgettes into large chunks and place them in the pan. Turn the heat onto medium high and stir well.
3. After 10 minutes of sautéing the courgettes, pour in a label of broth and cover with a lid. Cook for 15 minutes, or until courgettes are soft.
4. Add the mint leaves to the pan and blend everything until you achieve a smooth, homogeneous cream. If it is too thick, add some more broth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
5. In a separate pan, crush the garlic and sauté with a tablespoon of olive oil. Slice the tomatoes in half and throw them in the pan when the olive oil is hot. Let them cook on high heat for 5 minutes, then sprinkle the sugar over them and leave it there to sit, lowering the heat. After a few minutes, mix the tomatoes and add a label of water. Once the water has evaporated, the tomatoes will have caramelised and you can turn off the heat.
6. Place the ricotta in a blender and blend until smooth (takes 1 min).
7. Place the soup in a bowl, add half of the tomatoes and a nice spoonful of ricotta, and top it all with a lug of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt flakes (or rock salt).
I thought I would share the recipe to make a delicious, basic, egg pasta dough from which you can make hundreds of shapes. It's important to follow the steps carefully otherwise your dough will end up being much less smooth.
Serves 4 people
300g plain "00" flour
3 medium eggs
1. Place the flour onto a wooden surface and make a well in the middle.
2. Crack the eggs into it one at the time (your well needs to be large enough so that they don't overflow).
3. Using a fork, start whisking the eggs slowly (see picture 1) and then very gradually start adding flour from the walls of the well (see picture 2). As you add flour, keep on whisking, to stop any lumps from forming.
4. Once you can no longer whisk with a fork, fold all the remaining flour into the middle of the egg mix and start kneading with your hands. Start by pushing the flour and egg together with your fingers and then with your whole hands, pushing forward with your upper body to give you strength.
5. Knead the dough until it is smooth, compact and it springs back once you poke it (see picture 3). Cover the ball of dough with cling film and let it rest for 30 mins.
You can shape or fill the pasta in pretty much any way you want, here is the recipe for caramelle (with a ricotta & lemon filling), the one for sclutzkrapfen (spinach and ricotta). If you don't feel like a filled pasta, you can use the various settings on the pasta machine (or a very sharp knife) to make tagliolini, tagliatelle or pappardelle.
They’re one of the most satisfying shapes of pasta to eat, in my opinion, because you can scoop up whatever sauce you’ve made to go with them so perfectly! They’re also quite straightforward to make and freeze very well, meaning you can make a bigger batch and just boil them wherever you feel like having some again.
For 2 people
200g durum wheat flour (semola di grano duro rimacinata)
Water (1 cup more or less. You might end up using more or less!)
For the cime di rapa sauce:
500g cime di rapa (turnip tips, turnip greens or broccoli work too)
4 canned anchovies in olive oil
3 garlic clove
We all love pesto, but unfortunately store-bought ones just don't taste good—and basil is only in season for a few months per year. Cavolo Nero (aka Kale) is the perfect substitute.
Makes 1 jar (roughly 4 servings)
10 kale leaves
extra virgin olive oil
1 handful of pine leaves
1 garlic clove
4 tablespoons of grated parmigiano
200g stracciatella cheese (optional)
1. Dice the kale leaves, rinse them and spread them out to dry. Then place them in a bowl with the pine leaves, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and garlic. Blend
2. If the pesto isn't smooth enough, add more olive oil.
3. Once you've reached the desired consistency add the grated parmigiano and mix well.
4. Bring a pot of water to boil, add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions.
5. Place the desired amount of pesto in a serving bowl and add 2 tablespoons of cooking water, mix well (makes the sauce creamier).
6. Drain the pasta, place it in the bowl and toss it with the pesto. Add a few pine nuts on top.
7. Serve the pasta and add a tablespoon of stracciatella on each plate.
One of those recipes that brings a ray of light and feeling of summer in your life and palate. It's also great because it requirers using old, stale bread—you can finally put to good use all that bread in the back of your cupboard!
6 ripe tomatoes
fresh herbs (I used marjoram)
1 stock cube
3 handfuls of stale bread
2 garlic cloves
1. Dice the onion and carrot finely and add to a pot with olive oil, turn the heat onto medium.
2. Once they have softened, throw in the crushed garlic cloves.
3. Chop the tomatoes into small chunks and add them to the pot, with a squeeze of tomato paste, and cover with a lid. Turn the heat to low and stir every once in a while.
4. After 20/30 minutes, the tomatoes should have started forming a sauce, at this point you can add the chunks of bread, stock cube and 1 cup of water, cover again with a lid. Stir frequently, and if it seems too dry add more water.
5. Season with salt and pepper (be careful with the salt—the stock cube is already pretty salty!) and throw some fresh herbs too.
6. After 30 minutes, you should have a thick, soup-y looking pappa. Turn off the heat and serve or let it sit for a couple of hours (this is better, so the juices have more time to be absorbed).
7. When serving, season with some olive oil, fresh herbs and a sprinkle of black pepper.
These little pockets of sunshine will brighten your day (and impress everyone who's in lockdown with you). If the shape is too tricky for you, make them into simple ravioli or mezzelune!
Makes enough for 4 people
300g plain 00 flour
zest of 2 lemons
fresh or dry sage
1. Place the flour on a clean wooden surface, create a well and crack the 3 eggs into the middle. Using a fork whisk the eggs and add the flour, little by little, until the dough is too thick, start kneading with your hands. Knead the dough until you've achieved a smooth and springy consistency.
2. Place the dough to rest under a bowl for 30 mins and start working on the filling.
3. Place the ricotta in a bowl with the lemon zest and Parmigiano (⅓ of the ricotta's weight) and mix with a fork (you can also blend the whole thing). Add salt and pepper to taste.
4. Once the dough has rested for long enough, roll it out to the thinnest size on you rolling machine and cut out rectangles (2cm by 3cm is the size I like) make them as big or as small as you want!.
5. Using a teaspoon place some of the ricotta filling in the centre of each rectangle. Fold the rectangle in half lengthwise , turn it so that the opening faces the bottom and pinch the two ends in the middle, click here to see a video on how to fold them.
6. Bring a pot of water to boil and add salt. Drop the caramelle into the boiling water, carefully, and let them cook until they begin to rise.
7. Melt a knob of butter in a pan, add the fresh or dry sage and let it foam. Once it has started turning brown, drain the pasta with a slotted spoon and place them into the pan with the butter.
8. Season with Parmigiano and serve!
7th day of quarantine, of staying home, of making big sacrifices (for everyone) requires some extra special comfort food. These potato gnocchi are super easy to make and require no special cooking skills and no fancy tools.
Makes enough for 2 people + some leftovers to freeze
3 medium size potatoes
1 egg yolk
Pecorino Romano (or Toscano, or Sardo)
Plain 00 flour
1. Peel the potatoes, place them in a pot, cover them with water and bring to boil. Once the water boils, lower the heat slightly and let them boil until you can poke them with a knife the whole way through.
2. Once the potatoes are boiled through, remove them from the water and mash them—if you don't have a potato masher, a fork will do! It's important that the potatoes are hot when you mash them and work them.
3. Place the mashed potatoes onto a wooden surface you've dusted with flour, add the egg yolk and mix well.
4. Start adding flour, little by little, and kneading the dough. Your aim is to achieve a compact but soft dough (the less flour you can add, the better!)
5. Cut sections off the dough, roll it out into a long breadstick-looking shape and cut individual squared using a sharp knife.
6. Bring a pot of water to boil and add rock salt.
7. In a bowl, grate the Pecorino and Parmigiano (about 1 or 2 teaspoons of each p.p.) and grid a good amount of pepper. Using a ladle take some of the boiling water and place it in the bowl, mixing vigorously with a fork. The cheese, pepper and water mix should not be too runny nor too solid—adjust by adding more cheese if it is too watery and more water if it is too solid.
8. Place the desired quantity of gnocchi in the boiling water and let them cook for a short amount of time, until they float, tasting one before you remove them all. I cooked mine for not even 2 mins!
9. Drain the gnocchi with a slotted spoon, keeping some of the water they cooked in on the side, and place the gnocchi in the bowl with the cheese mix, toss them for a few minutes so that they're all coated well and serve.
NOTE: taste the cheese, pepper, water mix before adding the gnocchi because it might be too salty depending on what Pecorino you're using!.