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 al pesto

Home made pesto is so infinitely superior to the store-bought jars, it’s a totally different beast. This authentic Italian recipe is one of the easiest, quickest, and most delicious sauces for pasta. All you do is stick the pasta on and put the pesto ingredients in a food processor, although pesto is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. The first time I had this wasn’t with my Italian family, it was in an Italian restaurant in Hamburg when I was a teenager and I vividly remember thinking it was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten and it’s perfect for a date night.

Recipe

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
1 large bunch of fresh basil
1-2 cloves of garlic
1 small handful of pine nuts
1 cup of freshly grated quality parmesan
6 tablespoons of olive oil
500g spaghetti

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melanzane parmigiana

With nearly all of my recipes I look at loads of versions of them and take the best bits from each one to create what I think is the perfect hybrid, and that’s what I’ve done with this Sicilian dish. I really love aubergine and this version of melanzane parmigiana that I have created is great because it’s spot on in the flavour department. It’s low carb and great with meat and/or salad because its really satisfying as well as delicious. You could also serve it with pasta. Tonight, I’m testing it on friends (cooked the night before and reheated in their oven) I’ll get back to you on what they think.
Yes! They really really loved it……

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
4 aubergines sliced into thinish slices , approx one pound coin thick
2 tablespoons of olive oil plus more for the aubergines
1 red onion finely sliced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
2 400g tins of plum tomatoes
a sprig of oregano or a teaspoon of dried
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
200g of thinly sliced mozzarella
100g of freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and pepper

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panzanella

This traditional Tuscan salad really tastes of the summer. It’s really tomatoey because the juices of the tomatoes go into the dressing. Combine it with my aubergine spaghetti and you have a perfect dinner combo.

Serves 4-6.

Ingredients:
1 kilo of tomatoes chopped into smallish pieces
2 teaspoons salt
1 large sourdough loaf cut in half and chunks of the middle ripped out and put on a baking sheet (leave the crust)
10 tablespoons of olive oil
1 red onion very finely diced
2 cloves of minced garlic
½ a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
A sprig of basil
A sprig of parsley

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sugo

Sugo is a great classic Italian sauce made with slowly simmered tomatoes to have simply on pasta, with some Parmesan and fresh basil, as a base to a bolognese or lasagna, on pizza or in soup. You can also freeze it. It is a hundred times better than any thing you can buy in a shop. It is also perfect with pasta for a vegetarian dinner party with my avocado bruschetta as a starter.

Enough for 2-3 as a pasta sauce.

Ingredients:
4 tablespoons of olive oil
2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
2 minced garlic cloves
2 teaspoons of maple syrup or sugar to taste
1/3 cup of chopped basil leaves
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
½ to one red chilli (not chopped)
Salt and pepper to taste

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aubergine spaghetti

I cooked this for a couple of vegetarian friends recently and they adored it. It’s got all the right tastes and textures and its dairy free.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
400g spaghetti, can be whole meal or rice
A clove of garlic minced
2 unwaxed lemons zested and juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of chopped capers (that have been in brine)
A bunch of parsley finely chopped
A bunch of basil finely chopped
2 or 3 aubergines cubed
A handful of pine nuts (optional)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

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mediterranean roasted shellfish spaghetti

This recipe was inspired by a roasted Mediterranean seafood platter I had at the Ivy restaurant in London once and which I still dream about. I thought it would be great with pasta, and it is.

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
1 pound of a mix of frozen prawns, scallops, calamari, langoustines (optional), thawed
1 cup of white wine
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 minced garlic cloves
small bunch of chopped basil
small bunch of chopped parsley
500g spaghetti

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