A selection of my favourite recipes mostly, but not exclusively, originating in Italy where I now live. Since the COVID-19 lockdown I’ve become very interested in foraging and cooking dishes made from ingredients found in the woods and hedgerows around my house. I’ve created a separate foraging page for some of my favourite recipes.
Pumpkin and chestnut soup with ginger – I’ve made many pumpkin soups over the years but this one is by far my favourite. What makes it different is the addition of ginger and a squeeze of lemon at the end which adds layers of flavour and lightens the dish. I replaced the cream with grated creamed coconut – you could use coconut milk – which means this recipe is also vegan.
Pumpkin and ricotta ravioli with garlic sage butter – It’s pumpkin season here in Italy and this weekend we finally made it to the Fiera della Zucca di Piozzo just a short drive from our house. This recipe transforms one of the Zucca Piozzo pumpkins I bought into a creamy filling for my homemade ravioli. A little turmeric added to the pasta dough brings out the colours of Autumn whilst sage gives the dish a rich earthy flavour perfect at this time of the year.
Fried halloumi salad with baked pomegranate grapes – This recipe is quick and simple – just ten minutes from start to finish – and makes great use of the bottle of pomegranate molasses that’s been sitting in my cupboard since my last trip to Turkey. The tartness of the molasses and sweetness of the grape juice make a delicious dressing that works very well with the salty halloumi
Garden vegetable soup – A simple soup made with vegetables from my garden, delicious either served on its own as a lunchtime snack or with bread and a chunk of cheese for supper
Warm potato salad with feta and fava beans – The best way of cooking almost all vegetables is to roast them in the oven with a little olive oil. This dish with new potatoes, courgettes, fava beans, baked feta, garlic, lemon and fresh herbs brings out the sweetness of the vegetables and is one of my new favourite things to eat!
Torta rustica ai luvertin – During Spring it is an ancient tradition for the Piedmontese to forage for luvertin, which is the Piedmontese name for wild hop shoots. The luvertin shoots – also known as wild asparagus due to their shape – are usually cooked in a pan with butter or used to flavour a risotto, soup or frittata. I made mine into a simple flan with eggs, mushrooms and spinach for a quick and delicious lunch
Soft choc chip cookies – I haven’t seen my grandson Rex for more than six months but our ‘cooking with nonna’ sessions are a joy. Today we made soft, gooey choc chip cookies, perfect with a long distance cup of tea!
Torta Pasqualina – This is not actually a cake but a savoury pie from Liguria traditionally made at Easter time made with layers of thinly rolled pasta brisee and filled with a rich mixture of ricotta and spinach flavoured with fresh marjoram and nutmeg. The addition of whole eggs which bake in the oven creates a wonderful effect when you cut the pie open
Baccala, chickpea and tomato stew – I finally bought some baccalà and made it into a delicious tomato stew with chickpeas, potatoes, olives and capers, hearty flavours for a cold evening in early Spring
Cottage pie – The ultimate British comfort food. This dish, like all my recipes, is a veggie version made with onion, celery, carrots and brown lentils cooked in a rich tomato sauce with stock and gravy granules and topped with a creamy potato and sweet potato mash
Lentil and mushroom cannelloni – My first ese ne tekrema online cooking experience with friends from the UK and Portugal making fresh pasta with a rich vegetarian ragu of lentils, mushrooms and tomatoes topped with a creamy cheesy pesto sauce
Leek, cheese and potato pie – Pies are something of a staple food in the UK and come in very many different forms with a huge variety of fillings. Whilst pies can be eaten all year round they really come into their own during the winter when they are generally served with roast vegetables or chips. This vegetarian version of a traditional British chicken and leek pie can be made with flaky or shortcrust pastry
Roasted sprouts with chestnuts and maple syrup – Never, ever boil Brussels sprouts, the trick is to roast them in butter adding chestnuts and maple syrup or honey for extra sweetness. Perfect for Christmas lunch but also delicious at any time they are in season
Roast stuffed pumpkin – I often make roasted pumpkin soup and my squash, red lentil and coconut dahl is a favourite with family and friends but this time I thought I’d try making a stuffed pumpkin as a centrepiece for a vegetarian Christmas dinner
Cabbage and mushroom pasties – A rich cabbage, mushroom and leek filling with Parmesan cheese and mustard inside a soft crumbly shortcrust pastry, adapted from my new recipe book which celebrates the very best of seasonal vegetable cooking
Italian lemon and ricotta cake – A moist Italian cake made with fresh lemons and handmade ricotta from the local farmers market, delicious with coffee for breakfast or as an afternoon snack between those relentless online Zoom meetings…
Leek and aduki bean stew with cheesy dumplings – A delicious and warming combination of firm beans and soft vegetables in a rich, smoky tomato sauce with deep flavours of paprika and soy. Oh, and fluffy cheesy dumplings which my teenage children used to fight over!
Roasted squash and chestnut soup – There is something completely addictive about foraging for chestnuts and these days I return from every walk with my pockets bursting at the seams. This recipe combines the rich flavours of roasted chestnuts with the sweet charred flesh of some beautiful golden squash picked from my garden
Tray-baked sea bream with lentils and salsa verde – There’s nothing like drizzling homemade salsa verde over a perfectly cooked piece of tray-baked fish that you have filleted yourself to make you feel ‘chefy’!
Apricot, plum and lavender cake – This year’s apricot harvest was very limited, most likely due to the unseasonally cold and wet conditions during May. So the only option was to make them into a cake! I added a handful of the the plums that were just starting to ripen on the tree next door and some beautifully scented lavender.
Baked green pea fritters – Peas are normally regarded as a side dish or end up in a pea and mint soup, of which I’m not a fan. So after a quick search online I found this recipe for green pea fritters and decided to give it a try.
Gorgonzola risotto with mushrooms and asparagus – People often assume that it’s complicated and time consuming to make Italian risotto but it really isn’t – at least not the way I do it!
Pizza ortolana con pesto – Two months into the Italian lockdown my need for pizza has taken over so this is my take on the ortolana, which in Italian means “from the vegetable patch”, with added pesto for extra flavour.
Cinzia’s tiramisu – This tiramisu with layers of sponge soaked in coffee and rum, chunks of dark chocolate and a rich marscapone cream is one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever eaten.
Ravioli with zucchini and garlic sauce – Although I live in Italy and have eaten (and loved) Italian food almost all my adult life, I’ve never actually tried to make my own pasta. Today I put that right with thanks to an online cooking lesson with Cinzia in Florence…
Lockdown cauliflower cake – This is somewhere between a savoury cake and a quiche made with both eggs and flour, great for quick and easy (bread free) weekday lunches.
Cauliflower, leek and Gorgonzola cheese – More comfort food in these COVID-19 lockdown days…
Polenta with pumpkin, mushrooms and sage – A comforting dish made with fresh sage which has anti microbial properties, builds immunity and helps keeps viruses at bay.
Tagliatelle con trota e ricotta – A simple and quick pasta dish made with smoked trout sourced from a nature reserve in Piedmont.
Torta de mela – A delicious, moist Italian apple cake made with organic apples grown on the sloping hills of Piedmont.