friggione bolognese (slowly braised onions that go with everything)

If you read my blog you will know I adore onions, and this ancient recipe from Bologna dates back to 1886. Its a homage to the onion and once cooked this way they become sweet and unctuous. It’s traditionally served on bruschetta, polenta, cheese or with meat or fish, and it tastes absolutely delicious. I sometimes eat it on my scorched or roasted sourdough (recipe on here) with a sprinkle of chopped parsley and you can add big grating of parmesan if you fancy and a salad for lunch or it’s even delicious with pasta. It would be brilliant on canapés too. You can add pancetta and chilli flakes, however it’s the simplicity of this recipe that makes it magical.

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Italian aubergine pasta pie (tamburello di melanzane)

This delicious Italian recipe is a proper dinner party or special occasion centre piece. It looks amazing as well as tasting fantastic. It’s not the quickest of my recipes but it’s really worth the effort. You can serve it after anti pasti with a salad and it’s a bit like a pie version of Pasta Alla Norma, so if you like that you will love this.

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killer spaghetti (spaghetti all’assassina)

This spaghetti recipe from Puglia looks simple from the ingredients, but it’s all about the technique. The trick is the spaghetti has to crisp up and scorch a bit because this is what gives it its unique flavour and texture. It’s cooked in a similar way to a risotto with the liquid added bit by bit till the pasta is cooked. It’s one of those recipes you wonder how you missed it, if you haven’t already tried it. The pasta goes red from the tomato and absorbs all the flavours from the chilli and garlic and it’s utterly delicious.

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sweet and sour crispy tofu

This recipe is brilliant if you fancy a bit of sweet and sour and don’t fancy meat. The tofu goes super crispy and the rich sauce is packed with the flavours of ginger, garlic, chilli and soy. My friend Steve made it with a small tin of pineapple chunks in juice and added a tablespoon of the juice. He said it tasted better than traditional sweet and sour sauce. You can serve it with rice if you prefer, and it’s the perfect vegan homemade takeaway .

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panpapato

this rich chocolate coated Italian cake tastes so deliciously Italian, it’s not that sweet and packed with cocoa, honey, spices and almonds. It’s traditionally served in the winter and at Christmas in Italy with a glass of wine or beer and it’s perfect after dinner with an aprés dinner cheese course. It can also be entirely plant based, as it says in my recipe notes. I find it tastes even nicer after a few days when all those delicious spicy flavours have matured.

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my big fat greek baked beans (gigantes plaki)

I have always had a soft spot for these delicious Greek baked beans, they are easy to make, all plant based and excellent with warm flatbreads (check out my pizza dough recipe to make truly fresh flatbreads) and my creamy bean hummus (takes 5 minutes) with a crisp green salad. If you aren’t going down the vegan route then they are fantastic served with a big block of feta, some olives and warm flatbreads for a tasty mezze.

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apple snow

my mum used to make this traditional English apple dessert on special occasions and according to what I’ve read about it’s history the recipe dates back to the 17th century and was called apple fluff amongst other things. I remember big bowls of it in the larder where I would stick my finger in and scoop up a delicious morsel. It’s light as a feather and you can add a teaspoon of your favourite spice to it if you fancy, to make it more Christmassy. It’s a great alternative to all the rich festive food and works as a light pud all year round.

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