burrata salad with heirloom tomatoes and Thai basil

This is the easiest most delicious salad which is so fresh and summery and perfect with a bbq or any alfresco eating. The Thai basil give it a slightly aniseedy flavour which works really well. I eat it for lunch with roasted sourdough or for dinners with any of my pasta recipes and the tomatoes taste even nicer if you mix them up with the vinaigrette and onions in advance and leave them in the fridge for a few hours before assembling the salad.

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forbidden black rice risotto with prawns and Vermouth

I was sent a big bag of black Venus rice from one of my favourite companies Belazu who stock the best Mediterranean and Middle Eastern ingredients, check them out online. So I thought I’d make a recipe that works well with the rice, in Italy they usually serve black rice with seafood so I added giant prawns and I must say its a great combination of flavours. And now I prefer it to normal risotto rice.

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spinach and ricotta gnocchi

These gnocchi are much lighter than potato gnocchi, although I’m a still big fan of potato gnocchi. I’ve made this recipe with gluten free flour which works really well, but you can use normal flour if you prefer. They take a day to make because you need to strain the ricotta overnight in a sieve, but after that the are easy and worth making because they are clouds of deliciousness. You can also serve them with my sugo instead of the butter and olive oil with fried sage, and then grate lots of parmesan on top. They make a great starter or main meal with a salad.

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baby aubergine salad with parmesan and basil

This Italian aubergines are so creamy and delicious, I love them. This recipe is fantastic as a side dish to pasta for dinner or just with or on crusty bread for lunch. Its got all the Italian flavours of basil, pine nuts and parmesan with lots of garlic and olive oil. It’s also best served at room temperature like a salad so you can prepare it in advance.

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pistachio and chocolate meringue biscuits

These are my version of the traditional biscuits called “Brutti-ma-Buoni” in Italian… they are light, chewy, crispy and melt in the mouth and a bit macaron like and the chocolate and nuts magically end up in the centre. They are also gluten and dairy free. Pistachio and chocolate are a fantastic combination and they are perfect with a coffee at the end of a meal and they are super easy to make. I think they make fantastic home made gifts wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon. Perfect at Christmas or anytime.

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Italian hazelnut and chocolate meringue biscuits

These traditional biscuits are famous for not being the best looking biscuit in the world but probably one of the most delicious. Called “brutti-ma-buoni” in Italian, they are a delicious combination of a cross between a meringue and a Ferrero Rocher and they are crispy and melt in the mouth and a bit macaron like… they are also gluten and dairy free. Hazelnuts and chocolate are a fantastic combination of flavours and textures and I added a little vanilla to mine. They are perfect with a coffee at the end of a meal and they are super easy to make. I think they make fantastic home made gifts wrapped in cellophane with a ribbon. Perfect at Christmas.

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panforte (Italian Christmas cake)

This delicious traditional Italian cake is very dense chewy and packed with dried fruits, nuts and spices, and can I just say, there are lot of ingredients but it’s really easy to make. This recipe is softer than the ones you buy which I prefer. It’s origins dates back to  the Italian crusaders who discovered it in Turkey. It kept them nourished during their sieges. Italians often cut it into pieces and wrap the morsels in parchment paper with ribbon and give the little parcels as gifts.

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spaghetti al nero with mushrooms and chilli

This spaghetti recipe is a traditional Italian recipe which is like a lot of Italian recipes, it’s really simple but nails it with its flavours. I bought my mushrooms at Morrison’s as they have a brilliant selection of veg, fruit and herbs. The spaghetti al nero I got from my local Italian deli, but it’s equally good with standard spaghetti. It’s essentially vegan except for the spaghetti al nero which is made with squid ink, so to get the same vibe you could use black rice noodles. For the Parmesan lovers like myself, you can add lots of freshly grated Parmesan. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, you can find a vegan parmesan in your local supermarket or health food shop.

It’s perfect for a dinner party served with a salad and some crusty bread or for a date night as it looks really beautiful.

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chicory salad with anchovy sauce and breadcrumbs

OMG this salad is so delicious, the recipe is a traditional Italian salad from the Rome area of Italy and its usually served with bread on the side but I’ve made a crunchy sourdough crumb to go on top of it instead. Chicory is a tad bitter, which Italians love hence our love of the aperitif Campari, so you can add a teaspoon of maple syrup or sugar to the sauce if you prefer it a little sweeter. This salad is fantastic with fish or cheese or if you eat meat it would work really well with roast chicken or lamb.

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mushroom risotto with truffle

I cooked this for a friend of mine the other day and she loved it so much she told me I had to put it on the blog. The combination of flavours is fab with the mushrooms, parmesan and truffle oil… they are a marriage made in heaven.

It’s also really easy as most of the work is in the prep, so once you have done that it’s a doddle. You can get little bottles of truffle oil in supermarkets or online and of course in Italian delis, and before you think it’s too expensive, you can get them from as little as £3.50 and remember a little goes a long way, so it will last you for ages.

This is a perfect dinner party or date night supper and works really well with a crispy salad with my vinaigrette recipe which is also on the blog.

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