Tag Archives: basil

Pesto fatto in casa – Homemade Pesto

Recipe 5: Another famous recipe of my mum, and very common in every italian house is the homemade pesto. What is better than the fresh smell of basil, pine nuts and parmesan all mixed together? And pasta with home made pesto it’s just another thing. My mum never buy the already made, but instead she uses to do pesto and frozen it in little containers to have it for all the winter.

Here the ingredients for 5 people: 70 gr. basil,  half a glass of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 garlic cloves , 3 spoons of pine nuts, 3 spoons of Parmesan, 1 spoon of Pecorino cheese and a bit of gritty salt. Of course the pasta will be around 500 gr. better if the shape is “trofie”.

The procedure is quite easy, but to be traditional, you will need a marble mortar and a wooden pestle. This because instead to chop the leaves you will need to crush them to have the leaves’ oil necessary for the sauce. Wash the basil leaves in cold water and dry them on a paper towel. Don’t squeeze them.

Then crush in the mortar the garlic clove the pine nuts and the basil leaves, add  the salt, the Parmesan, the Pecorino cheese and keep pounding using a light circular movement of the pestle.

Add some of the Extra Virgin Olive from time to time and keep  mixing until  you obtain  a smooth creamy sauce. Pesto should not be greasy and the amount of oil used must be well absorbed and not floating on top.

Trofie and Trenette are the pasta used in Liguria, however linguine or spaghetti al dente will make a good companion to this sauce. Just put some sauce in each plate with sme spoon of water from the boiling pasta and mix. In this way the suace will be more creamy and ready to be mixed well with the pasta.

Just add a sprinkle of Parmesan on top and Buon Appetito!

PS. Mamy che buono! L’ho portato a casa di amici e non sai le facce quando hanno sentito l’odore appena aperta la scatolina! Fantastico e la pasta non ha nulla a che vedere con il pesto pronto! Grazie questa ricetta me la tengo proprio stretta!

Pomodori ripieni – Rice filled tomatoes

Recipe 42: This recipe is something i needed to cook now, before was too late. The rice filled tomatoes it’s another classic summery dish and i wasn’t really a big fun of it, until i tried them again this time. I have to say i did them REALLY well! I was impressed. My mum of course used to do them often because it’s a one dish meal and for the summer it’s really practical and easy.

The ingredients are : the biggest tomatoes you can find and i would consider at least 2 per person (i’m sorry but here in London the tomatoes are all quite little), one spoon rice for tomatoes, some salt, basil, flat leaves parsley, pepper and olive oil.

Wash the tomatoes and cut the top of them. Take off the interior and place it in a bowl. Then cut the pulp and mix it with parsley and basil finely chopped. Add some salt, pepper and the spoon of rice you will need for all the tomatoes. Mix it well and fullfill the tomatoes.

At this point, try to add in each of them some of the liquid from the tomatoes you put in a side at the beginning… but don’t add the seeds. Turn on the oven at around 180 degrees and place the tomatoes on a baking pan with baking paper or oil to don’t make stick to the pan. The rice will need this sauce to cook!

Let them in the oven for at least 20 minutes and then try some rice to see if it’s ready. Probably it will be still hard, so add other tomato sauce you have in a side and maybe a bit more oil.  Put them again in the oven until ready!

Serve it hot or at a warm temperature. They are good also cold from the fridge but i prefer them a bit warm. Enjoy!

PS. Mamma con tutto il prezzemolo, basilico, sale e pepe che c’ho messo, sono venuti troppo buoni! ed io che non ne andavo pazza per niente penso che li cucinero’ piu’ spesso…o forse e’ solo il fatto che non li mangio da una vita!

Ferragosto Menu’: Pasta fredda – Cold pasta or pasta salad

Recipe 49: This is something I was waiting to cook since 2 months…more or less since we started to see some sun in London and we began to organize picnics in the parks. Finally I never did it and this Ferragosto was just the right occasion! So here is the simple but delicious recipe.

The ingredients for 3 people are: 300gr short pasta (I used fusilli), 1 can of tuna (or you can do without if you are vegetarian, and it’s going to be great anyway), 2 little bags of little mozzarelle or 2 mozzarelle to cut in pieces, some cherry tomatoes, some pitted black olives, oregan, fresh basil, salt, pepper and  olive oil.

Boil the pasta in some salty water until al dente or even a bit before. Just to give you an example on the english ( and I have to mention this because if it’s not an Italian brand you need to be even more careful ) pasta bag there was written 12 minute and I take the pasta off at 8 minutes because was al dente…not to hard or with flour taste, but not even melted.

Drain the pasta and pass it under cold running water to stop the cooking process. Then place it in a big container and add some olive oil. Mix until all the pasta is divided and start to add the ingredients: cut the mozzarella, the cherry tomatoes and the black olives in half.  Then add the tuna, the fresh basil the origan, salt and pepper.Mix it all with some more oil if needed and be ready to eat! We used plastic glasses instead of plates and it was great! It’s a good solution for lunches in the park. Enjoy!

PS: Mamy che buona!!! Che belle mangiate checi facevamo di pasta fredda ed insalate di riso a Lavinio eh??? Qui invece bisogna sempre aspettare il tempo propizio, ma diciamo che quest’anno c’e’ andata bene! E poi per Ferragosto non puo’ mancare! Con il tapperware faceva anche effetto pranzo in spiaggia… mancava solo il mare e la ghiacciaia 🙂

Orecchiette peperoni e mozzarella – peppers and mozzarella pasta (-28 weeks)

Recipe 60: Do you have friends coming at the last moment, or you just want a quick and nice recipe for your dinner? Here is one i tried last week. I came back home quite late and i wanted something quick to prepare but tasty, so i opened the fridge and i found some peppers and mozzarella… so here it is!

Ingredients for 2 people : 200gr of short pasta (i used the orecchiette because they can maintain well the sauce and the little pieces of ingredients, thanks to their shape), one pepper, olive oil, one mozzarella (if you have buffalo mozzarella it’s even better or you can use just cream), basil, Parmesan, a garlic clove and cherry tomatoes if you like.

Now i will give you 3 different ideas to make pasta with peppers:

The first one is the easiest one. Just cut the pepper in little pieces, put some oil in a pan and let cook a clove of garlic in it. When goldish take it out and put the peppers to cook. In the meantime boil some water with salt for the pasta and cut the mozzarella in little pieces. When the pepper is soft and well cooked, add some mozzarella and let it melt. When the pasta is ready just add this to the pan with pepper, mozzarella and oil and let it take all the sauce. Serve it in a plate with Parmesan and the dish is ready!

The second option is to put some cherry tomatoes with the pepper and the oil in the pan and some basil leaves and let it cook. Then you can add the pasta, while you will put the buffalo mozzarella and other basil leaves just on top, fresh and tasty, without not even Parmesan. This is a bit more exclusive and summery!

Finally another sauce that i love it’s with peppers and cream, so exactly the same procedure than before, but instead than mozzarella you put a bit of cream in the pan and you add the pasta. I would serve it with some Parmesan too, But i advise you this is better in winter considering the cream it’s quite heavy.

So which one do you prefer?

PS. Mamy questa ricetta l’ho fatta rapida rapida con cio’ che ho trovato nel frigorifero, ma ti diro’ che l’accostamento con le orecchiette ci stava benissimo. Certo ad averci la mozzarella di bufala sarebbe stato diverso, ma tutto questo formaggio che filava con i peperoni, non e’ male per niente!

Another italian classic: ham, figs and Caprese salad (-39weeks)

Recipe 81: Big announcement this weekend. The figs are arrived in the supermarket! OK these are not the best figs ever, very sweet and soft, but they are good enough to have another classic italian dish for a light lunch or starter.

Ingredients: you will just need 4-5 figs, some Parma ham, 1 mozzarella, 4-5 tomatoes, 1 avocado or only some basil leaves, salt and olive oil.

For the Prosciutto e Fichi, just peal the figs and cut them in half. Put the ham on a plate with them and that’s all.

To make the dish a bit more complete, just add the Caprese salad: cut the mozzarella in slices, then wash the tomatoes and cut them in slices too and serve in a plate placing them alternately. Then if you want, you can just add between the slices some basil leaves as we do in Italy, but otherwise you can also peal an avocado and add some slices of this too. With some olive oil, salt and pepper the dish will be ready!

Enjoy and have a nice weekend!

PS. Mamy lo scorso fine settimana non ho potuto resistere a prosciutto e fichi! quando ho visto i fichi al supermercato per quanto piccolini non ho potuto fare a meno di prenderli. E con un po’ di prosciutto crudo ed una caprese, mi sono fatta proprio un bel pranzetti all’italiana!

Chicken with peppers – Pollo con i peperoni

Recipe 90: this is a classic recipe from the big lunch on the 15th of August…yes you understood well. We use to prepare chicken with pepper in summer, but don’t ask me why. I have never understood it! too hot for me.

However i decided to prepare it last week, when i saw some nice peppers in the supermarket and here is the recipe with all the ingredients for 2/3 people: 250gr peppers of any color, 500gr chicken breasts, 1 garlic clove, some green pitted olives, some capers in brine, 2 tomatoes, onion, butter, a bit of liquor like Porto, some basil, sage and bay leaves.

In first place wash the peppers and cut them in little slices taking out the center and the seeds. Put the 2 tomatoes in boiling water and leave them there for a bit. In the meantime put some butter in a pan and add the onion and the garlic cut in little pieces.

At this point cut the chicken in pieces and prepare the mix of herbs: put some basil, sage and bay leaves on a kitchen board and chop them finely, then add the pitted green olives in pieces and 2 spoons of capers. The smell will be amazing!

Now take the tomatoes form the fire, drain them and take off the skin, cut them in half, remove the seeds and cut them in slices to add to the peppers.

When the onion and garlic will become goldish, add the chicken breasts cut in pieces and let them cook a bit. Their color will change and just when all the pan will start to get dry, add some Porto liquor and they will soon get colored and really tasty.

Finally add to the chicken the peppers, the tomatoes, the mix of herbs and a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, but i also suggest you to move everything in a sauce pan to make all the ingredients cook quicker and to create also a nice sauce.

When the peppers will be mild and well cooked, the dish will be ready and you can serve it hot in a plate.

Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy questa ricetta e’ spaziale…ci siamo leccate i baffi. Altro che il solito pollo con i peperoni a ferragosto. Questo con le olive i capperi e questo misto di erbe e’ veramente insuperabile! Considera che Nat non ha la passione dei capperi e delle olive, ma quando ha assaggiato questo mix ne e’ rimasta affascinata! DELIZIOSO!

Antipasto italiano: Bruschetta & Crostini

Recipe 96: Let’s speak about the most classic Italian starter and let’s do it once for all: here is the recipe of the real Bruschetta and to make the dish a bit more interesting i have also added some Crostini.

Ingredients for 2 people: 4 tomatoes, basil, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, Parma ham, mozzarella, Casareccio Bread (impossible to find in England so i just used a classic baguette), Parmesan.

The bruschetta is very easy, reason why i can’t stand when they serve something totally different in some place here in London.

You just need to cut some nice red tomatoes in little pieces, add some garlic in pieces ans some basil leaves. Mix everything with some good olive oil, salt, a bit of pepper if you want and leave it there for some time. More you will leave it and more sauce you will get from the tomatoes and all the ingredients will release their amazing taste.

Another very important element is the bread: this in theory need to be “Casareccio”, a very common type of bread in Italy. It’s characteristic, on top of the particular taste, to be quite hard outside, but very soft and reach inside and with quite big holes too.

If you just cut the bread in thin slices and you grill it a bit, it will be perfect for the tomatoes bruschetta or just the garlic and oil one!

However i used in this case a Baguette or Baton ( the french bread is more welcome than the italian here in London), i cut some slice and i put it in the oven to grill them a bit, before to put the tomatoes mix: this is another important step to make a perfect bruschetta.

Then to make it truly original you can even pass a piece of garlic on the bread still hot and add a bit of oil. At this point the bruschetta will be irresistible.

For the crostini i instead placed a piece of Parma ham on the bread, some mozzarella and another piece of ham and i put them in the oven to melt and get a bit crunchy. You can even put some mozzarella on the top or just some Parmesan thin slices before to serve them.

Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy oggi ho ricominciato dalle basi e visto che ci stiamo avvicinando ad un clima un po’ piu’ mite, ho pensato di spiegare una volta per tutte come ottenere una bruschetta DOC. qualche settimana fa infatti ero andata in un ristorante italiano e non sai che roba ci hanno rifilato! Per bruschetta e crostini ho tolleranza zero! Sono troppo semplice da fare per poter sbagliare.

Pasta alla Norma

Recipe 117: This pasta is originally from Sicily but it’s very famous in all Italy for its strong and particular taste. I made this plate with some aubergines that i have fried for the Parmigiana and that i then leaved for this.

Ingredients for 4 people: 500gr pasta (you can use Penne or Spaghetti) – salt – onion – carrot – 300gr tomato sauce – 1kg aubergines – some basil leaves  – 150 ricotta salata (if you can’t find it abroad you can try with Parmesan and a bit of Feta cheese).

Start from the aubergines: like for the Parmigiana, you will need to take off the skin, you will cut them in little slices and you will leave them covered with a bit of salt to take off the water. After one hour you can fried them in a pan with olive oil and you will put them on absorbent paper to dry some oil.

In the time you fry the aubergine you can prepare the tomato sauce: put onion in a pan with boiling oil. When this is cooked, put the tomato sauce, salt and a carrot and leave it cook for a bit on a low fire.

Put the water for the pasta and cut the aubergine in little pieces and some basil leaves too.  Put the pasta in the water and when the tomato sauce is ready add half of the aubergine and half or the basil to the sauce to let it take the aubergine taste.

When the pasta is ready, drain it and add the sauce. Now you just miss to put the ricotta salata (or parmesan and some shave Feta cheese) and decorate the plate with the rest of the basil and the aubergines.

Buon appetito!

PS. Mamy ho un po’ cambiato la tua ricetta perche’ l’aggiunta della ricotta normale mi suona un po’ strana, percio’ ho optato per gli ingredienti classici. Comuque buona, peccato che le melanzane erano un po’ risicate e che qui non vendano la ricotta salata… pero’ in una ricetta ho letto di sostituirla con un po’ di Feta, ma non aveva lo stesso forte sapore, anche se vicino.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana

Recipe 118: This dish needs a bit of time to be prepared, but it’s worth to have a try, because is good and you don’t really need to prepare anything else with it. It’s one dish meal and you won’t need too many ingredients neither… just time.

The ingredients for 4 people are: 5 Aubergines – a good quantity of Parmesan – 300gr mozzarella – butter – 2 cans of tomato sauce (800ml /1 litre) – oil – salt – basil – 1 onion – 1 carrot – 1 celery.

Let’s start from the classic tomato sauce, made with 1 onion in a pan with some oil. When fried, you add the tomato sauce from can, the carrot and the celery to give flavor. Then a bit of salt and you leave to cook for a long time and on a very low fire.

In the meantime wash the aubergines and take all the black skin off. After that you will cut them in 1cm slices and you will put them on a plate or kitchen cloth with a bit of salt on top of them. These will lose part of the water they have inside and will become more tasty.

Leave them like this for one hour and then wash each slice and drain them very well also squeezing them. At this point you can start to fried them: put some oil in a pan (not too much, just a finger tall ) and cook the aubergine until they change color and get a bit crispy. When ready, place them on an absorbent paper.

In the meantime you can put some butter in the recipient you will use to cook the dish: place it  internally, on all the area to avoid the aubergine to stick to the recipient after cooking them.

When the slices are not too full of oil anymore, start to place them in the recipient, creating a first layer. Then add the tomato sauce you prepared before and some pieces of mozzarella, some Parmesan and Basil leaves. Keep on doing these layers until you finish all the aubergines: slices, tomatoes, mozzarella, parmesan and basil.

On the last layer, don’t put mozzarella and basil anymore, but just tomatoes and Parmesan. Finally put them in the oven for 20 minutes at 200 degrees and if you have a grill you can also make the top a bit more crunchy with it.


Ps. Mamy questa e’ la Parmigiana che ho fatto per i miei colleghi. Allora devo dire che era buona, ma forse le fettine di melanzana erano troppo fine e si sono cotte troppo. Comunque l’accostamento di questi sapori sta’ benissimo. Poi questa pirofila in teoria ci abbiamo mangiato in 6 ma solo dopo un bel piatto di pasta, percio’ ho dato al ricetta come per 4 altrimenti nessuno mangia nulla! Considerato poi che erano tutti maschietti e buone forchette, facendo anche la pasta prima, sono andata sul sicuro.