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Cover: Mamma Mia!

Recipes with sauce

14Jun 12

Roast Courgette Ruote

Roast Courgette RuoteThis dish matches wheel-shaped pasta (ruote simply means wheel) with round slices of roast courgette, and pesto if you’ve got any in the fridge.

Despite its earthy simplicity, this dish is somehow light and refreshing, and makes an ideal pairing with cold beer, a good dry white wine, or even prosecco. Eaten outdoors on a balmy night, with a cool refreshing beverage – by water is idyllic – this is a simple, subtly-flavoured food that leaves you quite satisfied.

For more courgette goodness, try these courgette and tomato pizzettas.

Ingredients:

  • 1 large courgette, cut into thin (2-3mm) slices
  • 200g of ruote pasta, or any other fun alternative such as fiori or croxetti
  • 4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/2 a medium-sized onion, fairly coarsely chopped (small stamp-sized pieces)
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of pesto (optional)

Method:

1 – Heat your grill to 200ºC, and place the chopped courgette on a baking/roasting tray, on a sheet of foil if need be, but certainly with a couple of spoonfuls of olive oil sprinkled over them. Get them under the heat, as close as safely and reasonably possible, without setting them alight! Keep an attentive eye on them, and turn over when necessary. Lay the courgette slices out so they overlap slightly, as this will mean some of the soft flesh roasts whilst other parts stay tender.

2 – Whilst the courgettes are roasting, get the pasta cooking. The time this recipe takes depends on two things: how long your courgettes take to roast, and how long your pasta needs. Assuming your courgettes char quickly and you time your pasta right, you should be able to get this done in 30 minutes.

3 – With your courgettes roasting and the pasta cooking, in a heavy-based frying pan, heat two tablespoons of oil, fry the onion till golden, adding the garlic after a couple of minutes. Remove from the heat when the onions are well caramelised and the garlic has started to turn golden, and set aside.

4 – Drain the pasta and return to the pan. Mix in the onion and garlic and, if the courgettes aren’t ready yet, keep warm. But hopefully your courgettes are now nicely roasted. Mix them into the pasta, onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and serve. You might like to have a little bowl of pesto handy, and plop a dollop on top of your pasta.

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04Jun 12

Proper tomato sauce for your pizza

Proper tomato sauce for your pizzaIn my goat cheese pizza recipe, I used a very simple tomato sauce that’s easily cooked during the preparation of the pizza itself. For something a bit richer, it’s worthwhile to make your own tomato sauce. This sauce is very simple and can be stored, so in one go you can prepare enough sauce for plenty of pizza-making sessions.

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, chopped roughly (or half an onion, if you’ve no shallots)
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic (we actually use more sometimes)
  • 3 x 400 g tins of peeled plum tomatoes
  • A hand full of roughly chopped basil
  • Salt and pepper

Method:

1 – Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based non-stick pan. Over a low-medium heat, add the garlic and shallots, letting the shallots turn translucent and the garlic colour slightly. While this is happening, empty the tomatoes into a large jug or bowl and – taking care not to cut yourself – go into a chopping frenzy (sometimes I actually do this with the tomatoes still in the can, but be sure to completely remove the can lid and not injure yourself!).

2 – After the garlic and shallots have softened up a bit, add the chopped tomatoes, basil, and freshly ground black pepper. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and strain the mixture through a sieve into a suitable sized bowl. With the back of a wooden spoon, really press the mixture through, not forgetting to scrape off the red goo from the reverse side of the sieve.

3 – Having removed the coarser elements of the mixture – the onion, garlic and basil – but retaining their rich flavours, scrape all the contents of the bowl back in to original pan and return to the heat. Bring it back to the boil before reducing to a simmer and watching for 5-10 minutes. The sauce should reduce by about a third as the flavours intensify.

Store in a sealable airtight jar, this will keep for a good little while, especially if you add a layer of olive oil over the mixture. It’s lasted several weeks in our fridge on one or two occasions, although it’s usually devoured well before there’s any danger of it going bad. If you’re feeling decadent, you can even add some rich red wine, which makes this sauce an excellent tomato base for a quick ragu.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try Kumato tomatoes for a distinct flavour.

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28Mar 12

Pesto Sauce

Fresh Pesto SauceAs well as sharing some of my favourite mouth-watering recipes, I’m trying to cover the rudiments of Italian cooking, one of which is pesto sauce. The rich green sauce from Genoa is so tasty, the Beastie Boys rap about it on their track ‘Finger Lickin’ Good’.

B + P + P = Pure Pleasure. This equation for taste bud pleasure begins with B for basil (and plenty of it) to which you add P, for pine nuts, and then more P, this time for pecorino (or Parmesan). The ubiquitous olive oil and garlic, and a little squeeze of lemon juice, and that’s it! You can use it for countless recipes, including this tagliatelle with pesto and pine nuts.

Ingredients:

  • 175ml olive oil
  • 2 large bunches of basil
  • 200g pine nuts
  • 150g of Pecorino or Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • The juice of one lemon
  • 1 to 3 cloves of garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped (Vary the amount according to your personal preferences: we like plenty, to keep the vampires off!)

Method:

1 – With a generous splash of olive oil, gently fry the pine nuts over a low-to-moderate heat, for about two minutes. Remove from the heat and throw in the chopped garlic, which will cook a little in the residual warmth, suffusing the oil with its beautiful yet powerful flavour.

2 – Coarsely chop all the basil, including the stalks, and either chuck it in a food processor or a good large pestle and mortar. I have to confess that whilst I often make my own pasta and tomato sauce the old-fashioned way, when it comes to pesto, I let technology speed things up. I also prefer the smoother consistency a machine gives. But you might prefer the rustic unevenness of the ‘by-hand’ method, which can also be messy and fun!

3 – Toss in all your other ingredients (including all the oil you fried your pine nuts and garlic in, plus the oil you set aside), and either blitz with the blender, or work that pestle and mortar! And presto, you’ve got pesto! You should find it absolutely delicious as is, but we sometimes add a tiny amount of salt and/or pepper.

Serves – approx 500g of pesto sauce

Time – 10-15 minutes if using a food processor, longer if using pestle and mortar

Note: Fresh pesto won’t keep long, partly ‘cause there are no preservatives in it, and partly because it tastes so good, you’ll eat it all immediately! But if you pop it in a sealable airtight jar, smooth it over and add a layer of olive oil on the top, it’ll keep a little longer.

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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.