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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with Italian dish

11May 12

Pork Pappardelle with Thyme and Sage

Pork ParpadelleFood and family are two of the most important blessings in my life, and combining the two makes for a perfect meal. My family is enormous, and we love getting together to enjoy a few bottles of wine and delicious eats. We have been known to squeeze up to 20 people at the dinner table at once! What others may call chaos, I call cosy. When we are all together, there is always love, good cheer, and fantastic food!

Feeding so many people isn’t difficult; pasta is the perfect solution for numerous hungry relatives! It is delicious and plentiful.

Preparing pasta is relatively stress-free, quick and simple; this recipe for Pork Pappardelle with Thyme and Sage is simplicity itself and makes enough for 2 people so just multiply quantities accordingly for bigger groups. Pappardelle ribbons give the truly passionate pasta lover that bit more to bite on, and with the salty pork and the punchy fragrance of the herbs, this is a simple but rich and earthy dish.

For another simple pasta meal, try pasta with egg yolks and walnuts. It was definitely a hit with my big family!

Ingredients:

  • 2-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, very thinly sliced chopped roughly
  • 4 or 5 leaves of sage
  • A sprig of thyme, roughly chopped
  • 150g sliced smoked pancetta, chopped into bite-size pieces
  • 200g pappardelle
  • salt and pepper
  • freshly grated parmesan cheese

Method:

1 – The first thing I do is put the lightly-salted water in a large pan for the pasta. While the water is heating up, you can make a start on the other ingredients. Heat most of the olive oil in a heavy-base frying pan, reserving a little for the pasta, and cook the pork until it starts to caramelise. Add the garlic. When the garlic has begun to colour, add the sage and thyme, cooking gently for a minute or two until the herbs soften and the flavours begin to combine. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm while the pasta cooks.

2 – When the pappardelle is suitably al dente, drain and toss with the remaining olive oil. Combine with the pork and herb mix, check for seasoning, and serve with grated parmesan. For a suitable wine, you could go red for the pork, or white for the pasta and herbs. We like Cuvée Mythique, a French red with a lovely picture of an owl on the label.

Serves: 2

Time: 30 minutes (about 10 minutes prep and 20 minutes cooking)

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24Mar 12

Pancetta and Pea Penne

Pancetta and Pea GemelliHam, peas and mint are a classic Italian combination, and after a cold winter, and with spring in the air, they have a fresh, zingy lightness, whilst packing a flavoursome punch. I like this dish with a number of different pastas. I suggest penne here, but you could also use fusilli, gemelli or rigatoni. Dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc brings out the spring zing, whilst cream softens that transition out of winter.

Ingredients

• Olive oil: as needed (2 or 3 tablespoons should be about right)
• 20g butter
• 1 clove of garlic
• 1 small onion, or better still 2 shallots
• Small glass dry white wine
• 75-100g pancetta, in little chunks or strips
• 200g peas
• 1 small handful of mint: 1/2 chopped for cooking, and half to garnish the finished dish
• 150-200ml single cream
• 200-300g penne pasta – 200g is for a leaner, lighter meal, 300g if you’re really hungry
• salt and pepper
• Parmesan shavings

Method

1 – This is quite a quick and easy dish, so the first thing I do is get the pasta pan and water started. In a decent sized pan, pour in sufficient water for the amount of pasta you’re cooking, add a little salt, and bring to a boil.

2 – Meanwhile, crush the garlic with the flat of your knife to release those oils, and chop finely. Chop your onions into chunky pieces. Melt the butter in a heavy frying pan and add the olive oil. Toss in your garlic and onions and cook on a low-medium heat till the onions become translucent. Add the white wine and simmer for a couple of minutes to reduce.

3 – Put the pancetta in with the onions, turn the heat up a fraction, and in two or three minutes that lovely pork should start to crisp and caramelize a little. Be careful not to overdo the heat; the onions and garlic might turn a little bitter if burned.

4 – Keeping watch over your pasta, add the peas and chopped mint to the onions and pancetta. Remember, fresh peas will need a bit longer than frozen. Season with salt and pepper, and check that the flavours are just right. Add the cream and simmer gently for a couple more minutes.

5 – Once the pasta is al dente, drain it and toss it over your peas and pancetta, mixing it all up. Garnish with Parmesan shavings and the remaining mint and serve immediately.

6 – Eat and enjoy with the rest of that dry white wine!

Serves 2

Time: 30 mins – about 15 mins prep and 15 mins cooking

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05Mar 12

Tuna Steaks with Roast Peppers

Tuna Steaks with PeppersItalian food isn’t all pasta. Being so near the sea, we also appreciate fish. Tuna, whether in a salad as a Tuna Nicoise or with vegetables, is a great main ingredient for an Italian meal. It is such a deliciously robust fish that you can combine it with strong flavours like roast pepper and rich black olives.

Sadly, the highly respected conservation organisation WWF has forecast that Mediterranean bluefin tuna, may soon be driven to collapse. So if you cook this fish, please make sure it’s from a sustainable source such as the pole-and-line method. Tuna have been around for millions of years. Only if we harvest them responsibly will we be able to continue to enjoy putting them on our plates!

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 litre of water
  • 2 red peppers quartered or halved, and deseeded
  • 10 black olives (optional)
  • 2 Tuna steaks, of whatever size you prefer (Between 80-160g each should be sufficient, depending on how hungry you feel.)
  • 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar

Method:

1 – Squeeze the juice from the lemon into the water and soak the tuna steaks for 10 minutes. Then drain and brush them with about half the olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.

2 – Preheat the grill and cover the bottom of a roasting tray or dish with a large sheet of tinfoil.

3 – Put the peppers in under the grill for about 5-10 minutes. Then place the tuna steaks next to them for another 10 minutes. Keep an eye on the fish and vegetables, turning the tuna over mid-way. Remember, you want the peppers to char a little, but you don’t want to overdo the tuna.

3 – When the pepper begins to blacken, take it out and allow it to cool for a couple of minutes. When the tuna is cooked, turn the grill off and fold the foil over it to keep it warm and moist with the lovely lemon and pepper juices. Leave the foil-covered fish under the cooling grill. Carefully peel the pieces of pepper – they should still be nicely hot – and then slice them into chunky strips. Toss the pepper and olives in the remaining olive oil along with the balsamic vinegar.

4 – Serve the tuna on warm plates with the pepper, olives and other vegetables on the side. A soft, floral dry white wine, like a pinot grigio, is a good accompaniment.

Serves: 2

Time: 40 minutes: 15 minutes preparation, 25 minutes cooking.

Note: As I am a vegetable nut, I put lots of veggies in the dish along with the red peppers.

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05Mar 12

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti CarbonaraSpaghetti Carbonara is a modern Italian classic, but there are some people who get quite stressed about doing this the ‘authentic’ way. I know it’s a terrible cliché, but I really do love it ‘like my mamma used to make it’. My mother always put a lot of cream in. Others have told me that I shouldn’t use cream at all. I say: Mamma knows best!

Although the classic spaghetti carbonara is made with pork, you can make a spaghetti fish supper that is also quite nice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 2 or 3 cloves of roughly chopped garlic
  • 150g pancetta, cut into ‘lardons’ (generous little rectangles, but not too small!)
  • 2 large eggs
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, finely grated (We’re cheese-mad, and so we grate a big pile and put it in a little bowl so we can have as much as we fancy!)
  • 75 ml double cream
  • 200-250g spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons of parsley chopped fairly finely, and 2 sprigs to garnish

Method:

1 – Cook the pasta in lightly-salted water with the olive oil.

2 – Heat the pancetta in a heavy-bottomed frying pan: good fatty pancetta should cook in its own fat, but add a little butter or olive oil if you feel you should. The meat will caramelise slightly for maximum rich sugary sweetness. This should take about five minutes. Add the garlic about halfway through, and let soften without burning it, to avoid it tasting bitter. If you like, you can throw in a little chopped parsley as well.

3 – Meanwhile, mix the eggs with the cream and four generous tablespoons of grated Pecorino. Add the finely chopped parsley to the mixture, season well with salt and pepper, and stir with a fork to combine.

4 – Drain the pasta and put it back into the pan in which you cooked it. Add the pancetta, and pour over the egg, cream and cheese mixture. The eggs will cook sufficiently from the heat of the pasta and pancetta. The resulting sauce should have a smooth satin texture.

5 – Serve in deep plates or bowls, garnished with a sprig of parsley, with salt, pepper and plenty more cheese.

It really is as easy as that!

Serves: 2

Time: 20-30 minutes: 5-10 minutes preparation, 15-20 minutes cooking.

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About Gianluca Dievole

My Badge: Assistant

About

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.