spaghetti con la bottarga

I have been meaning to put this Sicilian recipe on the blog for a long time as I adore it and love bottarga. Bottarga is a dried, salted fish roe which is a condiment that adds the unique flavour of the sea to the pasta. You can buy it in most Italian delis or online and a little goes a long way, as you only use a small amount. The breadcrumbs add a bit of texture and you can add some lemon zest too like I do. It’s perfect for dinner for two with a salad.


Ingredients

Serves 2-3

  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 1 -2 cloves of garlic thinly sliced 
  • Big pinch of chilli flakes 
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs 
  • 1 tbs of grated Bottarga 
  • 250g of spaghetti or any long pasta
  • A small bunch of parsley chopped 
  • 1/2 lemon, zest only (optional)

How:

Fill a big saucepan with slightly salted water and put in the stove to boil, bottarga is salty so don’t over salt the water. 

Then heat the olive oil in a big pan over a gentle heat. Add the garlic and chilli flakes and stir fry till the garlic is golden. Discard the garlic. Now add the breadcrumbs and fry them, stirring all the time till they are golden and crunchy. Stir in the bottarga and the lemon zest if using, remove from the heat. Set aside.

Cook the spaghetti until al dente. Drain and save half a cup of the cooking water. Put the spaghetti in to the pan with the breadcrumbs and mix for a couple of minutes. Add the reserved pasta water if it’s dry, a tablespoon at a time so it’s a bit moist. Check the seasoning with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle with the parsley and grate more bottarga on top and serve.

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

cherry sorbet

I love cherries in anything, and this delicious sorbet is all raw. I buy a bag of frozen stoned dark cherries from the freezer department in my local Sainsbury’s (they are only £2.00 for 500g which is a bargain) 

The sorbet is beyond easy to make, no churn and I like to serve it with biscotti and or some shaved dark chocolate on top… or just garnished with fresh cherries. 


Ingredients

Makes about 3/4 pint

  • 2 tbs cups of stoned cherries plus a few fresh ones for optional garnish 
  • 2 tbs of lemon juice 
  • 1/3 cup of maple syrup 
  • 2 tbs Vodka, Kirsch or fruit juice 
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract (optional) 
  • A bar of dark chocolate (optional) 
  • A lidded freezer container on standby to put it in

How:

Place the lemon juice, maple syrup, cherries and kirsch (or vodka or fruit juice) and optional almond extract into the bowl of your food processor. Working as fast as you can, blitz it all up till it’s silky smooth and there are no visible skin bits. Tip it into the freezer container to firm up unless you want it straight away, it will be quite soft but delicious nevertheless. It’s at its best texture wise after a couple of hours in the freezer and eaten that day. 

If it’s been in the freezer for ages you might want to take it out ten minutes before serving to soften it slightly. If I’m serving it with chocolate on, I put the chocolate in the fridge to harden up and then shave it with a vegetable peeler. 

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

pignoli breakfast biscuits

These soft nutty lemony Sicilian biscuits are served at breakfast in Italy with an espresso and are really popular at special holidays like Christmas and Easter. I like them all year round for breakfast with my coffee or after dinner when I fancy something sweet.


Ingredients

Makes about 16

  • 75g sugar
  • 200g plain flour 
  • 75g of mild olive oil or butter (or Naturli vegan spread for a dairy free version) 
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract or paste
  • 200g pine nuts 
  • the zest of one lemon 
  • 1 tsp of baking powder 
  • a shallow baking tray lined with parchment 
  • Icing sugar to dust (optional) 

How:

Preheat the oven to 180c. 

Put the sugar, flour, lemon zest and baking powder into a food processor. Whizz up and then add the egg yolk and vanilla and pulse till you have a dough. If it’s still dry and bread crumby add a tablespoon or two of cold water. Tip onto a board and knead most of the pine nuts in, leaving some to put on top.

Roll into 1 inch balls and place on the baking tray with lots of space between for when they spread out during baking. Squish the rest of the pine nuts on top of the biscuit balls. 

Bake for about 10 minutes or until the pine nuts are golden. Don’t over bake as they become too dry.

Leave to cool on the tray. Dust with icing sugar and serve. They can be stored in an airtight container for a week in the fridge. 

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

pear on toast with ricotta and a hot honey sauce

A brilliant brunch for pear lovers.


Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 2 slices of white sourdough 
  • One pear
  • 4 tablespoons of honey
  • A few tablespoons of butter
  • A tub ricotta 
  • A teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • A handful of walnuts toasted then chopped

How:

Slice the pears into thin slices. On a medium heat melt a tablespoon of the butter and gently sauté the pear slices till tender, how long will depend on how ripe they are, transfer to a plate.

Pour the honey, vanilla and a tablespoon of butter into the pan and gently cook till the honey is frothing  for a few minutes. Meanwhile toast the bread and butter it. Spread the ricotta on the bread (about quarter of an inch thick) and lay the pears on top. Spoon the hot honey over the top and sprinkle with the toasted walnuts. Serve straight away.

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

easy imam bayildi

This aubergine recipe is absolutely one of my favourite things ever. It’s an ancient Middle Eastern recipe that is so delicious I could eat it every day. I serve it with warm flat breads, Greek yogurt (or Oatly crème fraîche if you are dairy free) and salad and it’s the perfect lunch or starter. It’s brilliant with my Baked Falafel too. Sometimes I add toasted pine nuts on top with the mint and parsley leaves. My friend Giada and I had it for lunch on toast with hummus and it was delicious.


Ingredients

Serves 3-4

  • 2 aubergine sliced into 1/2 inch thick slices lengthwise 
  • 1 small onion finely chopped 
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1/4 tsp of red chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon
  • 1 tablespoon of cinnamon (I think it needs quite a lot) 
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • Small bunch of mint
  • Small bunch of parsley 
  • 1 tsp of maple syrup (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste 

How:

Preheat the oven to 180c or 350f.

The cut aubergines can be salted and left to drain for twenty minutes then washed before use, however they have bred the bitterness out of some of them so I generally find it unnecessary. 

Fry the aubergine slices in a big glug of olive oil, on both sides till golden. Set aside. Fry the onion in a tablespoon of olive oil till it’s starting to go golden and add the garlic, cinnamon and a pinch of salt and cook for a further minute. Tip in the chopped tomatoes and  gently cook till the sauce, about 5 minutes. 

Place the aubergines in an oven proof dish or pan and pour over the tomato sauce. Cover with a lid or tightly with foil and bake for about for about one and a half hours or until the aubergines are tender. Sprinkle over the chopped parsley and leaves of the mint and serve. They are even better the next day after a night in the fridge. 

My serving suggestion below is with warm pita bread, salad, Oatly crème fraîche and lots of the herbs.

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl

pasta alla norma

This is the classic delicious Sicilian aubergine Pasta Alla Norma recipe, which from everything I have read, was first created in the 1700’s in Catania in Sicily and was so delicious that it was compared to the beautiful opera Norma and thus named. Its a good store cupboard supper, and I’ve also served it up at dinner parties with a crisp green salad.


Ingredients

Serves 3-4

  • 2 small aubergines (eggplant)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced 
  • 400g of boccole, rigatoni or macaroni 
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 
  • A big bunch of basil
  • Ricotta Salata to garnish (which is not ricotta and I couldn’t get it) or lots if grated parmesan or a vegetarian hard cheese 
  • Chilli oil (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How:

Make the tomato sauce by sautéing the minced garlic in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil for half a minute, but don’t let it colour. Add the tin of tomatoes and simmer gently for 15 minutes, or until it’s slightly thicker. I add a teaspoon of optional maple syrup to mine to bring out the flavour of the tomatoes.

Slice the aubergines (eggplant) into any shape you like… I like mine in slices lengthwise but coins are fine too. Fry them in about quarter of an inch of olive oil until golden on both sides and drain on a clean tea towel or kitchen paper. 

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet in salty water. Drain and add to the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little chilli oil if using(I love it)then mix in the fried aubergine. 

Grate the Ricotta Salata over the top (or Parmesan) and finish with basil leaves.

I shop at:
Waitrose
Sainsbury’s
Tesco
Lidl