spaghetti with broccoli anchovies and pine nuts

This traditional Italian recipe for spaghetti with broccoli is deceptively delicious. It’s got a great combination of flavours with saffron, onions and wine. There is also a sweetness from the currants which makes it taste all the more delicious. Its got really typical Italian flavours and is normally made with Bucatini. I think it’s perfect for a dinner party or dinner date, (you can halve the ingredients) just serve it with a salad and a glass of wine. Job done.

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manoushe

I love Lebanese food and tasted manouche for the first time in Covent Garden the other day with my Lebanese friend Ralph at The Lebanese Bakery which is worth a visit if you want proper fresh Lebanese flatbreads. Manoushe is freshly baked flat bread with Za’atar on it and it’s a delicious combination of Middle Eastern flavours with thyme. The bakery put hummus and parsley, rocket and pine nuts on top, but you can have it as is or dipped into baba ganoush with salad. It tastes amazing with any mezze.

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baby aubergine salad with parmesan and basil

These 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 and eat it at your leisure…

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shaved courgette salad with lemon, parmesan and herbs

I think this might be my favourite salad now. I found it on Epicurious and tweaked it to my taste. It’s so delicious and easy to make, it’s kind of summery, although I would eat it all year round, and has the best flavours with toasted pine nuts, lemon and a tiny hint of hot from the dried chilli, but not so you would notice. The chilli makes the dressing unbelievably delicious. It would be perfect with a barbecue or with roasted fish or just on its own for lunch with crusty bread.

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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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savoury stuffed apples with rice pine nuts and currants

I adore sweet and savoury flavours together and this recipe from The Complete Book of Turkish Cooking nails this perfectly. I have tweaked it a bit because the first time I cooked them the cooking apples burst and so I had to start again even though they tasted amazing, so I went with Braeburn apples instead. I have also added more pine nuts and currants as I thought the recipe needed it and replaced the sugar with maple syrup as it’s low GI and used basmati rice. They are perfect as a side to a roast instead of stuffing or cold with a salad.

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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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kale curry

This Kale curry is really creamy and it’s got pine nuts, sultanas and coconut milk in it so it’s quite rich. I wasn’t sure if it was too rich, but once you put it with plain basmati rice it’s perfect. You could also serve it with roast chicken. It’s also a more complicated recipe than my usual recipes, but bear with it as it’s worth it and it’s a tasty way to eat kale. My friend Babs tried it when she popped round and she loved it and she normally loathes curries… So if you fancy a healthy, creamy curry this recipe is made for you.

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creamy bean hummus

Beans make a smoother paler paste than chick peas, and I sometimes like that. I know versions of humus are everywhere. And bean humus can be served as an alternative to hummus and is a great healthy store cupboard standby. It’s also perfect if you are dairy free and want an alternative to butter that is healthy. They are now saying that margarines and damaged fats are really bad for you, so things like hummus are a much better and tasty alternative. I like to serve it with bread drizzled in a little olive oil, see my scorched bread recipe in the index, and dry fried in a frying pan till it’s got a slightly overdone crunchy chargrilled flavour with a nice thick layer of the bean humus and with salad and pine nuts on top. Its great with roast veg on it too or its fab with crudités or tortilla chips as a dip.

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