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Cover: Mamma Mia!

April, 2012

27Apr 12

Paperdelle with Wild Boar

Papperdelle con Cinghiale

You may have noted that you can buy boar either wild or farmed, but nowadays, truly wild boar is less easily had. Boar is such a different beast from the more commonly farmed breeds of domesticated pig; it’s a deliciously strong, earthy flavour, and something everyone should try. (For more gamey recipes, try this potpie of roe deer with root vegetables.)


  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 small bunch flatleaf parsley, finely chopped
  • Small sprig of rosemary
  • 2 sage leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced very finely
  • 1 onion, finely chopped (a red onion if possible)
  • 1 tomato, finely chopped
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large glass of robust red wine
  • 500g wild boar meat, finely chopped or minced
  • 1kg pappardelle
  • Pecorino, grated
  • Salt and pepper


1 – In the olive oil, gently fry the herbs for several minutes, along with the bay leaf, in a heavy-bottomed frying pan or casserole. Add the chopped vegetables and sauté for 3-5 minutes before adding the garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes and then add the meat.

2 – Pour in the wine. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until the liquid is almost completely reduced. Season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for a further fifteen minutes.

3 – In a large pan of lightly salted boiling water, cook the pasta till al dente, as per the packet instructions. If you don’t have papardelle, then fettucine, tagliatelle, or even linguine or spaghetti will suffice.

4 – Drain the pasta and serve into large, deep preheated plates, before serving the wild boar sauce. Have a bowl of pecorino on hand so you can sprinkle the wild boar paperdelle liberally with cheese.

Wild boar meat can be very strongly flavoured, so you need a muscular red wine to stand up to it! Rhone valley reds, like the classic Chateauneuf-du-Pape, seem like an obvious option. A good crusty loaf of brown bread and some extra virgin olive oil will go well with this scrumptious meal.

Serves: 2
Total Time: – 1 hour (preparation, 15 minutes; cooking time 45 minutes)

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25Apr 12

Osso bucco alla Milanese

Osso Buco alla MilaneseI can clearly remember when and where I first tasted Osso bucco, which literally means “bone in a hole”. This absolutely flavourful dish was the first meal I ate when I went to the Italian city of Milan to visit one of my aunts. After that, I just had to get the recipe from her.

I enjoy cooking it, but you have to take into account that normally it’s a dish you might prepare for more than two servings, and is traditionally served with rice and vegetables on the side.

The ingredients are very simple, but the flavours are quite intense because of the gremolada, which is a mix of garlic, parsley and lemon zest, added to the dish a few minutes before serving it. The outstanding part of this dish is given by the bone marrow of the Osso bucco veal steaks that melt while cooking. (If you like veal, try this rib of rose veal with a honey and soy glaze.)

It’s not a difficult recipe; however, there is a lot of prep involved, so give yourself some time.



  • 4 veal shanks cut thick
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 50g flour
  • 50g butter
  • 1/2 glass of white wine
  • 1L beef stock
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

For the “gremolada”:

  • 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped or pressed with the garlic press
  • Zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1 tbsp continental parsley, finely chopped


  1. Put the butter and onion in a large pan and let it cook on a very gentle fire until the onion becomes transparent.
  2. Cut the steaks along the outer membrane so they don’t curl while cooking and coat them with a bit of flour.
  3.  Add the steaks, onion and butter and brown them on both sides.
  4.  Add the white wine. You will burn the alcohol off by increasing the flame.
  5.  Pour in some of the beef stock.
  6.  Cover and cook until the meat is very tender. Make sure to add more beef stock as required and to turn them over occasionally, so that the steaks don’t stick to the pan.
  7.  To prepare the gremolada, chop the parsley and the garlic and grate the zest of 1 lemon.
  8.  Mix together and sprinkle on top of the osso bucco steaks a few minutes before turning the fire off.
  9.  Season with salt and pepper depending on taste.
  10. Serve with a side of vegetables and rice.
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17Apr 12

Biscotti di Prato

Biscotti di Prato

This traditional biscuit from Prato, a wonderful city in Tuscany, is supposed to be very dry and crunchy; in fact, it is Tuscany’s traditional dipping biscuit, and one of the local specialities. Nowadays they are also called cantucci, even though that is a completely different type of biscotti. (Also try these Amaretti Chocolate Sticks.)

You might like to know that Prato is the centre of the ‘slow food movement’, which an international campaign founded by Carlo Petrini in 1986, promoted as an alternative to fast food. It works to preserve traditional and regional cooking and encourages farming in the local ecosystem.

I recommend enjoying these “biscuits” after a meal with a nice glass of Vin Santo.


  • 500g all-purpose flour
  • 300g sugar
  • 250g almonds, whole
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • grated peel of one lemon


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Sift the flour and sugar in a bowl. Then add eggs and the other ingredients until it all becomes a ball of dough.

3. On a clean surface, shape the dough into a 3cm wide roll that extends the length of a baking tray. Cover the tray with a piece of parchment paper to prevent the biscuits from sticking and then place the dough on top, flattening it softly with your fingers.

4. Place the tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes, then remove the roll from the oven.

5. Place it on a cutting board and cut diagonally, making 1cm wide slices.

6. Lay the slices flat on the baking sheet, making sure you leave some space between each slice. Slide the baking tray back into the oven.

7. Lower the temperature to 150°C . Bake for 15 minutes, then take the biscotti out and turn them onto the other side and bake another 15 minutes.

8. Remove from the oven and let cool. Remember to store them in an air-tight container to keep fresh.

Serves: 3 dozen aprox.

Time: preparation time 15 min/ cooking time 1 hour

Difficulty: medium

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14Apr 12

Bacon and Avocado Strozzapreti

Bacon and Avocado StrozzaprettiBacon and avocado make a wonderful combination: intensely rich, dark and naturally salty, the flavour of the bacon combines perfectly with the soft, smooth and light, but equally rich avocado, whilst the rough crunch of the former contrasts nicely with the buttery smoothness of the latter.

For a more rustic Italian feel, use lardons, or thick slices of bacon chopped into roughly equal sized and fairly small cubes. If you’re using thinner bacon slices, chop the pieces slightly larger, about 2.5 cm square.

Strozzapreti is traditionally hand-made, so why not try it with homemade pasta dough? Being very rustic irregular shapes and sizes are part of its peasant charm.

The etymology of this pasta is fascinating: ‘strozzapreti’ literally translates as ‘strangle-priest’ or, rendered less clumsily, ‘priest-choker’! There are numerous explanations as to how the pasta got this rather alarming anti-clerical sounding name.

The least dramatic is that the chef is ‘choking’ the pasta dough by the actions required to make it. Much juicier and more thrilling are these more complex or comedic explanations: that this was a form of pasta cooked by peasants in part payment of church rents, or best of all, that the clergy are so gluttonous that they stuff down this delicious pasta so quickly they choke themselves!

On that last count, who can blame them? (I’m sure they would have also loved this pasta salad with broccoli and bacon. Different veggies, but still a great flavour!)


  • 30g butter
  •  200g strozzapretti pasta (or similar, e.g. fusilli)
  • 100g bacon (uncooked)
  •  1/2  medium-sized onion, finely chopped.
  •  1 large ripe avocado, diced.
  •  Several cloves of cloves of garlic (according to taste), peeled, crushed against the blade of a knife, and coarsely chopped.
  •  150ml cream*
  •  100g grated Parmesan cheese.
  •  Salt and pepper.
  •  Optional tablespoon or two of olive oil for the pasta

* You can use either single or double cream, depending how rich and creamy you want it to be; remember though that avocados have both these qualities to begin with!


1 – Start your water for the pasta. In a frying pan, melt one-third of the butter and fry the bacon till it’s taken on a rich dark tone, as the sugars begin to caramelize, releasing those fabulous aromas and flavours (it was my wife frying bacon in the mornings that ended my experiment with vegetarianism!). Ideally you want the bacon to have some crunch in this dish.

2 – By the time the bacon’s starting to crisp a little, the water should be boiling, so drop your pasta into the pan, cover and reduce to a low medium heat to cook the pasta. Add half of the remaining butter and fry the onion until golden. Now add what’s left of the butter and drop in the garlic. Lower the heat a little and cook gently for a couple of minutes.

3 – Making sure the heat is now very low, pour in the cream and the stir the mixture to combine with any remaining butter. When the mix is a silky smooth delight, add the chopped avocado and grated Parmesan, gently stirring and allowing all the ingredients and flavours to combine for a couple more minutes. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

4 – Drain the pasta and serve into generous deep plates or bowls, before spooning over your richly delicious bacon and avocado mix. Grate a little more Parmesan over it all, and perhaps a little freshly ground pepper, and dive in!

Serves: 2

Total time: 35-40 minutes (15 minutes preparation; 25 minutes cooking)

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11Apr 12

Risotto alla parmigiana

Risotto alla ParmigianaRisotto alla parmigiana translated to English is Parmesan risotto. This is one of the first dishes I learned to prepare before I got married, and has worked very well for me because my wife just loves it! After a hard day at work, risotto is perfect if you don’t want to cook for too long but always enjoy a tasty meal.

You may also remember my affection for my wife’s mushroom risotto, and you can find the recipe on this same blog. But risotto alla parmigiana is the original Italian classic – the Father of all risottos and is also the basic risotto recipe from which all others have been and are developed, such as this British asparagus and pea risotto.


  • 35 g butter (1 knob of 20g and 1 knob of 15g)
  • 200g Carnaroli or Arborio rice
  • ½ onion (finely chopped)
  • 50ml white wine
  • ½L of hot beef stock
  • 25g grated Parmesan cheese

1. Put 20g of the butter in a big pan and melt it.
2. Add the chopped onion at medium heat for about 2-4 minutes until soft.
3. Add a spoonful of stock and leave it for 1 minute.
4. Then add the rice and stir until the rice is completely mixed with the butter. Keep stirring for about a minute.
5. Add the wine and keep stirring to evaporate it.
6. Add the stock and turn the heat down to low. You should add the stock at the rate of 2 spoonfuls at a time, and when this is absorbed, add more. Continue doing this for about 10 minutes. Stir continuously.
7. Taste the rice every minute until you feel the rice is tender outside but a bit hard on the inside. Stir regularly so that the risotto doesn’t stick to the bottom part of the pan.
8. If you see that the stock has evaporated, add a bit more, but be careful not to add too much to avoid the risotto being watery.
9. When you feel the rice is tender on the outside but slightly hard in the middle, add the Parmesan cheese and stir for few seconds.
10. Then turn the cooker off, add all the remaining 15g of butter and stir until it is completely melted.
11. Don’t serve immediately – the risotto should rest for a couple of minutes.

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05Apr 12

Penne alla arrabbiata

Penne alla arribbiataFirst of all, I would like to explain this dish’s name. Literally, ‘arrabbiata’ means ‘angry’, and ‘penne’ is a type of pasta. Directly translated, it means ‘angry pasta’! This ‘anger’ comes from the use of chilli peppers in the recipe that makes the dish so hot, furiously filling your tastebuds with spicy goodness. So, when preparing this dish, use as much chilli as you like, depending on how “angry” you want your pasta to be. (For another recipe with hot red chilli peppers, try this bonfire bean chilli.)

Although many may flinch at the thought of how spicy chilli peppers can be, they are really healthy. One benefit is the large amount of Vitamin C it has. Did you know that a chilli pepper has more vitamin C than an orange? And only 50g can provide over half of your recommended daily vitamin C intake. Not too shabby!

This recipe is originally from Rome, and you might like to know that it has many different versions. Some of them actually have nothing to do with the traditional recipe, so, if you can, stick to the following ingredients and you will enjoy the taste of the original Roman arrabbiata.


  • 50ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 or 2 dried red chilli peppers (roughly chopped)
  • 300g chopped tomatoes
  • A small handful of flat leaf parsley (roughly chopped)
  • Salt for seasoning
  • 200g penne pasta


1. Chop the garlic and peppers.
2. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan (medium heat) and add the chopped garlic and chilli into the pan.
3. Sauté for a couple of minutes or until the garlic becomes golden in colour.
4. When the garlic has turned golden, add the chopped tomatoes. Stir for a few seconds.
5. Then season with salt, and stir again for a few seconds.
6. Cook on medium/low heat for about 20-25 minutes to reduce the sauce.
7. A few minutes before the arrabbiata sauce is ready, boil your pasta and when the pasta is cooked al dente, drain it and add it into the pan containing the sauce.
8. Stir for a few seconds to coat the pasta with the sauce. Do this when the pan is still on the heat.
9. Then, sprinkle with chopped parsley.
10. Give a quick stir and serve immediately.

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01Apr 12

Chilli garlic pasta

Chilli Garlic PastaThe name of this chilli garlic pasta more or less tells the whole story. The best part is that you can pick your favourite pasta! If you pick spaghetti, then you’re basically making the Roman classic ‘spaghetti aglio e olio’, which means “spaghetti with garlic and oil”.

The ingredients are so simple, but the flavour is immense. There are several ways you can prepare this dish, but most recipes I’ve read are quite moderate with the garlic. Since Teresa and I like it plenty, and can handle plenty of it, as you’ll have noticed if you’ve been following this blog, we add a bit more than most versions recommend. Make sure to brush your teeth afterwards, though, to fight the intense aroma of the garlic.

A simple hearty meal that often forms the basis of convivial gatherings, it’s a great meal to throw together in the early-morning hours, after a night on the town. If you want to add fish for extra protein, you can try this salmon with chilli lemon linguine recipe that is quite similar.


  • 400g of your favourite pasta
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 2-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 4 dried chillis, finely chopped (de-seeded if you want, although we don’t bother)
  • Several sprigs of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper


1 – Cook your pasta in a pan of salted boiling water, as per the instructions of your chosen favourite.

2 – In a pan, heat the oil gently. Then add the garlic and a little salt, and allow the garlic to soften and caramelise slightly, turning a pale gold. Remember; don’t overcook the garlic, as it turns bitter if burnt. Add the chopped chilli and stir to combine. If the pasta’s not ready yet, set aside but keep warm by popping the lid on.

3 – Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the other ingredients, stirring the oil, garlic and chilli so they thoroughly coat the pasta. Add the chopped parsley, a generous twist or three from your pepper mill, and a touch of salt if needed. Mix it all up and serve immediately.

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant


Buon' giorno! Welcome to my Italian food blog. I am Italian, and proud of it! Italy has so much going for it: with one foot quite literally in the beautiful Mediterranean, my country’s climate and location give us an amazing cornucopia of ingredients, which is why our culture is steeped in a hearty romantic culinary tradition. My wife and I love our food, so all my recipes are designed for two. If you're cooking for an average sized modern family - perhaps not the traditional extended Italian family - just double the quantities.