The Recipes - Starters

Minestra with red radicchio
Minestra di radicchio rosso

50g faro
50g pearl barley
50g white rice
1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
100g diced smoked pancetta
1 large head of radicchio rosso
1 onion chopped
4 thick slices of bruschetta
Grated Parmesan cheese to serve
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and back pepper

Finely chop the onion. Add to a large sauce pan with the olive oil and sauté gently over a low heat until the onions begin to soften. Add the diced pancetta and roughly chopped radicchio to the pan and fry gently for a further 5 minutes until the pancetta has browned slightly and the radicchio softened. Then add the rice, pearly barley and faro. Give it a good stir and pour the stock into the pan. Bring to the boil and continue to simmer gently for between 20 to 25 minutes until the rice and pulses are cooked. Taste for seasoning and then ladle over slices of toasted bruschetta. Serve with a sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese and a drizzle of olive oil.  

Fusilli with Italian sausage, squash and rosemary
Fusilli con salsiccia, zucca e rosmarino

Serves 2
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes

160g fusilli pasta
1 large Italian sausage
200g butternut squash cut into 2cm dice
1 large sprig of rosemary
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper

Throw the fusilli into a large saucepan of boiling salted water and cook until al dente (about 12 minutes).  In the meantime skin the sausage and break into small pieces and finely chop the rosemary. Dice the squash. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the sausage and the rosemary.  Whilst the sausage is frying place the diced squash in a pot of boiling salted water and cook for 3-4 minutes.  Drain and add to the sausages.  Continue cooking until the pasta is ready.  When the pasta is cooked, drain it and add it to the pan.  Stir everything together, season with pepper and serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Butternut squash soup with prawns
Zuppa di zucca e gamberi

Serves 4
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes

500g butternut squash
250g fresh prawns peeled
2 leeks
1.2 lt vegetable stock
1 small onion
1 large potato
1 small fresh chili
Few tablespoons of olive oil

Finely slice the onion, leeks and chili and fry until softened in a few tablespoons of olive oil.  Chop the butternut squash and potato into rough chunks and add to the pan. Top up with the stock.  Cover and simmer gently for 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.   Add around three quarters of the prawns to the soup and cook for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. Allow to cool for a few minutes and then blend until smooth. Ladle the soup into warmed serving bowls and garnish with the remaining prawns. 

Linguine with spicy prawns
Linguine con gamberi picanti

Serves 4
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

320g linguine pasta
400g fresh prawns
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 fresh medium/hot chilli peppers
2 tablespoons tomato puree
50ml extra virgin olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon finely chopped parsley
Salt & pepper

Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.  Once boiling, add the linguine pasta and cook until al-dente (about 10-12 minutes). 

In the meantime,  add the olive oil to a large frying pan and add the crushed garlic cloves, finely chopped chilli peppers (with or without the seeds – depending on how hot you like it!), and tomato puree.  Sautee for a few minutes, until the garlic takes on a little colour and then add the prawns.  Stir to coat the prawns and continue to cook over a moderate heat for about 4 to 5 minutes.  Finally, add the parsley. Drain the pasta, add to the pan, season and mix everything together. Serve immediately with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the juices.
Pumpkin Risotto
Risotto alla zucca

Serves 4
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

300g risotto rice
250g pumpkin flesh cut into bite-sized chunks
1 small onion, finely chopped
1-1.5 litres of vegetable stock
Bunch of sage leaves
Large knob of unsalted butter
Grated parmesan cheese, to serve
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pan, add the onion and pumpkin and gently fry for a few minutes.  Add the rice and stir to ensure the grains are evenly coated in oil.  Next, add a few ladlefuls of hot stock and stir until all the stock is absorbed. Continue adding the stock a ladleful at a time, adding the next addition once the last has been absorbed.  Continue to cook, stirring for 12-15 minutes (depending on the quality of risotto rice) until the rice is cooked.  Just before the rice has finished cooking, place the rest of the olive oil in a small frying pan, add the sage when the oil is hot and fry until crispy. 

Finally, stir a generous knob of butter into the risotto, season, and serve topped with parmesan cheese and crispy fried sage leaves.

Spinach and Ricotta Tortelli
Tortelli con spinaci e ricotta

Serves 4
Preparation time: 30 minutes + resting time
Cooking time: 10 minutes

For the pasta
2 free-range eggs
200g plain flour

For the filling
500g fresh ricotta
500g spinach, wilted
100g freshly grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of nutmeg
Salt & pepper

For the sauce
250ml fresh chunky passata
Handful of fresh basil
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Begin by making the filling for the tortelli. Wilt the spinach, dry and finely chop.  In a large bowl, mix together the ricotta cheese, spinach and the parmesan cheese.  Season well, add nutmeg and then set aside.

To make the pasta, place the flour on a large surface. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten eggs.  Slowly, with your fingers, draw in the flour until you are able to knead the pasta.  Knead the pasta for a few minutes until smooth and then cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 30 minutes.  This resting time makes the pasta much easier to work with later on.

Using a pasta machine, or by hand, roll out the pasta as thin as possible, (about 1mm).  If rolling by hand, cut the large piece of pasta you have into 5cm strips ready to be filled.  Next place teaspoons of stuffing on the strip of pasta leaving a gap of about 3-4cm between each. Then lay another sheet of pasta over the top.  With your hands gently press the pasta down around the filling to seal and remove any air bubbles.  Use a pastry cutter to cut out the tortelli. They can be either square or rectangle in shape.  To cook, boil in salted water for 3-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of your pasta) and serve with a fresh tomato sauce with basil. Make the sauce by adding olive oil to a saucepan, heat gently and then add the passata, basil and seasoning and simmer for 5-10 mintues.

Spaghetti carbonara
Spaghetti alla carbonara

Serves 4

320g Spaghetti
150g Guanciale or pancetta in one thick slice
50g grated pecorino cheese
2 organic free-range eggs
Salt and Pepper

Chop the guanciale (or pancetta) into cubes and cook at a low heat in a heavy based frying pan until the fat has dissolved.  This will take about 5-7 minutes. Don’t allow it to crisp and brown too much.   

In a bowl, beat together the eggs. Add the grated cheese and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. 

Boil the pasta in salted water until it is al dente, (which should take about 8-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of spaghetti used) and then drain and add to the frying pan with the guanciale.  Switch off the heat, add the eggs and cheese and stir rapidly.  Don’t be tempted switch the heat back on or you will over cook the eggs. The residual heat from the pan and the pasta will be enough to cook them through.  Serve immediately.

Pasta and beans
Pasta e fagioli

Serves 2
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes

300g cooked borlotti beans, one third mashed
100g tube pasta such as mezze maniche
500ml vegetable stock
Sprig of rosemary
1 ½ cm thick slice of pancetta, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and add the diced pancetta and rosemary. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the pancetta has browned.  Then add the beans and the stock. Bring the stock to the boil add the pasta. Cook for a further 15 minutes.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese.