pasta alla checca with fennel

The flavours of this really sum up Italy for me, it’s a really fresh delicious pasta recipe which dates back to the sixties in Rome, the area where my Italian family come from. There’s lots of versions but my favourite has ground fennel in it which I love, I grind the seeds in my coffee grinder or with a mortar and pestle so it’s super fresh. Its the perfect dinner for al fresco dining and you can add a burrata on top, or fried capers. I just serve it with a salad.

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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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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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roasted cauliflower with chilli and anchovies

This recipe is Spanish and it’s a really tasty way to cook cauliflower. It’s got lots of garlic and chilli so it’s a fantastic side dish to cook with baked fish or with other salads. It’s also got healthy lemon and parsley so it’s packed with vitamins and also very low carb. It can be served hot or at room temperature.

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crab and mango salad with lime

This salad is my go-to when I want something less carby and light, zingy and refreshing. It’s pretty effortless and there no cooking involved. It’s also my store cupboard supermarket staple and takes minutes to make. It was a big hit when I posted it on Instagram so I’ve written it up for the blog.

It is also a perfect starter for a dinner party, just bear in mind that it would serve two as a starter and multiply the ingredients accordingly. I eat the whole bowl to myself for dinner because it’s super healthy and a delicious combo.

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tuna ceviche with chilli mango and lime

This recipe by the chef Peter Gordon is quite simply one of the most delicious things I’ve ever eaten. It’s the perfect food to eat in the summer as it’s a Polynesian style sweet savoury raw fish salad that requires no cooking and is fresh and light. I sometimes add crispy onions on top that you can get in a tub from the salad dressing aisle in the supermarket which add a bit more crunch and flavour. It’s perfect as a date night dinner for two or as a starter for a dinner party.

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vegetable tajine with harissa

This tajine has all the flavours of a tasty Moroccan dish.  It’s perfect for a warming supper or dinner party now it’s colder.  It has that lovely combo of savoury and sweet because it’s got delicious spices and dried apricots in it. It’s super easy as it’s all baked in the oven and needs little attention. Perfect if you are busy. I serve it with saffron couscous, garlicky yogurt (Alpro have just started doing a sugar free plain yogurt) and my Moroccan orange salad, recipe in the index, and it’s a big hit with vegetarians and non vegetarians.

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vegan chilli paneer

This recipe is really easy, dairy free, gluten free and vegan. Vegan food lends itself really well to the flavours of middle eastern and Indian ingredients because it peps up foods like tofu which has little flavour and adds va va voom. This recipe is converted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe and I replaced the paneer cheese with a very firm tofu by The Tofoo Co, which is available in my supermarket. It’s the perfect paneer replacement. I serve this with hot chapatis, salad and pickles but you can serve it as a side with any of my other Indian recipes.
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