caprese salad tartines

Caprese salad is summer personified…the flavours and the white, greens and reds of the salad are not only the national flags colours, they are the Mediterranean on a plate. You get the crunchiness of the bread with caprese salad in a simple olive oil and balsamic dressing with lots of basil.
I love these tartines because they are not only delicious but I can imagine myself by the sea in Italy on a hot summer day with a glass of wine having a two hour lunch in a pair of espadrilles and a floaty caftan and dipping a toe in the pool. These are perfect for brunch, lunch or for a light supper.

Recipe

For two or four as a starter but you can multiply it by how many to feed.

Ingredients:
1 large mozzarella ball
A chargrilled pepper, I buy these in a bottle form Sainsbury’s, they are called chargrilled peppers antipasto, but you can roast one in the oven too (optional)
A few tomatoes, I used red green and yellow for colour
A small bunch of basil
Balsamic vinegar for drizzling, I love Belazu balsamic of Modena
Four slices of roasted sourdough 
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

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spaghetti with black truffles

This is an authentic Italian recipe and it’s vegan, but you can serve it with Pecorino cheese finely grated on top if you don’t do vegan, both ways are traditionally Italian. I love truffles on nearly everything, eggs, chips, risotto, pasta, mashed potato…the list is endless. I gave my friends Timna and Vicki my black truffle carbonara a couple of weeks ago and they are still talking about how sublime they think it is. However, I wanted I to do a vegan version too. I think it tastes fantastic, all truffley and garlicky. Its very Italian and it only takes about ten minutes to make, or as long as the spaghetti is cooking. Perfect for a dinner party, you can multiply the amounts or halve the quantities for a super tasty date night.

Recipe

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
2 black truffles in a little bottle, I get these from my local Italian deli for about seven pounds, some supermarkets stock them or you can get 2 small fresh ones
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
500g of spaghetti or spaghettini
2 cloves of minced garlic
A little sprig of finely chopped parsley
1 tablespoon of truffle oil plus more if required (I like a lot)
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino or Parmesan, if you are not vegan (optional)

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caesar salad tartines

Tartines are open sandwiches on bread, Tartine means open faced sandwich in French. They usually are a really delicious combo of crunchy bread and fresh salad. I decided to make a Caesar salad version, so the crunchy bread base is there instead of the croutons. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like Caesar salad or toasted bread for that matter. When I mention Caesar salad to people as a snack or meal suggestion they always jump at it, more than any other recipe! These tartines could be a great starter for a dinner party, or fantastic for dinner with my matchstick fries.

Recipe

Serves 3.

Ingredients:

2tablespoons of good quality mayonnaise
3 large slices of sourdough bread or 6 small slices
2 tablespoons of olive oil
3 tablespoons of Greek yogurt (or dairy free yogurt)
3 anchovies for the Caesar dressing plus extra for placing on top of the tartine
½ clove garlic (optional)
2 tablespoons of grated Parmesan plus extra for shaving over the top of the tartine
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 small Cos lettuce, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

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David Beckham’s risotto

This risotto was put on Twitter by David Beckham when he cooked it for his family. I looked at the pictures of him proudly cooking it, and I checked out the ingredients and worked out it was a risotto Milanese. I have recreated it so you can try a bit of the Beckham. It’s a really rich, creamy risotto that would work well with a crisp lettuce salad dressed with my vinaigrette to counterbalance the richness of the risotto which would be a delicious dinner for two on a date night.

Serves 3 as a starter or 2 as a main meal.

Recipe

Ingredients:
1 cup of risotto rice
½ medium onion finely chopped
75g butter
200ml of white wine
500ml of hot stock, David used beef stock, I used chicken (Knorr stock pots are fantastic) or you can use vegetable stock
4 fresh sage leaves, or a pinch of dried sage
Saffron, a big pinch
1 ½ cloves garlic very finely chopped
50g Parmesan grated
A small bunch of parsley
Lemon zest

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italian beans on toast with poached eggs

Beans on toast with a fried or poached egg is up there as a great tasting breakfast or light meal. I have taken a traditional Italian recipe that ramps up the taste and textures and added my own tweaks, but mainly a poached egg, which you can leave out if you want the vegan version it’s still delicious.

Recipe

Serves 2.

Ingredients:
4 thin slices of sourdough bread
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 peeled garlic clove
Salt

Beans
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 small red onion very finely sliced
A large handful of small tomatoes quartered
A tablespoon of finely chopped parsley
1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans drained and rinsed
4 eggs

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spaghetti alle vongole

This is the food of the gods and needs no explaining as to how good it is. When I’ve been to Venice I practically live on it as it really is my favourite thing and I can’t get enough of it. It can be made in under 20 minutes and the ingredients can be bought days in advance. This recipe is an original Venetian recipe which I always love to cook, as it is like a lot of Italian recipes, very simple. There are two sorts of Vongole, in bianco, which is made like this recipe, or in rosso which is made with tomatoes. When I make it everyone goes mad for it…so try it, it’s not expensive and it is quick and easy.

Recipe

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
500g box of frozen clams (I get them from Waitrose for £3.59) or use fresh from the fishmonger if you prefer
2 cloves of garlic (minced)
a bunch of flat leaf parsley finely chopped
half a red chilli very finely chopped
1 lemon zest and juice
three tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter (optional)
500g spaghetti or linguine
1 cup of white wine or two tablespoons of vermouth
Salt and pepper

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