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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Venetian carrot and almond cake

This delicious traditional Italian cake was the precursor to the carrot cake we know now and love but this is kind of marzipany without the bitterness. Don’t be fooled by its simplicity as it’s fantastic with coffee, for breakfast or with a glass of vin santo after dinner. Like a lot of Italian recipes it’s dairy free and it also has no oil or butter. It is mostly carrots, egg and almond.

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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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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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spaghetti with breadcrumbs and truffle oil

I cooked this recipe for an anniversary dinner with one vegan and two vegetarians. I thought I’d cook a truffle spaghetti that was primarily vegan, but had great tastes and textures. So I came up with this truffle spaghetti with breadcrumbs.

It’s mushroomy and truffley and has healthy lemon zest and parsley with crunchy sourdough bread crumbs on top… and if you eat Parmesan you can grate lots on top too.

Every one was happy and loved it so much I have put it on the blog. It’s the perfect dinner party recipe and if you half the quantities it’s perfect for a date night. Truffle oil is used sparingly so a bit goes a long way and in my local supermarket it’s £3.50 a bottle and will last you for ages, so it’s well within budget.

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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.

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lobster risotto

A perfect romantic Valentine’s dinner for two or more if it’s a dinner party, just double or triple the quantities for the amount of people you are feeding. This easy risotto tastes delicious and before you think it’s too expensive to cook, I got a frozen lobster for £5.00 from Lidl. It’s a bit of work getting the meat out, but after that it’s easy. For the stock, I can’t praise Knorr fish stock pots highly enough. You would be hard pushed to make a better stock and they are a store cupboard essential round in my kitchen.

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