Red pepper and aubergine carbonara

Serves 4.

Red pepper and aubergine carbonara ingredients

  • 320g gnocchetti di sardi
  • 1 medium red pepper, cut anto small dice
  • 1 medium aubergine, cut into small dice
  • 1 stick celery, cut into small dice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
  • 1 whole small chilli
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp marjoram
  • 60ml olive oil
  • 80g parmesan cheese, grated
  1. Fry the pepper, aubergine, celery, garlic cloves marjoram and chilli in half the olive oil for about 15 minute.
  2. Remove from the heat and discard the garlic and chilli. Keep warm
  3. Beat together the eggs, cheese and the rest of the oil.
  4. Cook the pasta until al dente
  5. Add the drained pasta to the vegetables and mix well
  6. Finally, add the egg mixture and stir thoroughly.

Red pepper and aubergine carbonara

Lumache with whelks

Lumache con lumache di mare. Or snails with sea snails! I was mightily confused when I first translated this recipe until I realised that they meant the pasta shapes known as snails with whelks.

Whelks are more often eaten poached and eaten as part of a seafood antipasto. They can also be dressed with lemon juice and olive oil. Serves 4

Pasta with whelks ingredients

Pasta with whelks ingredients

  • 350 g lumache (or similar pasta shape)
  • 500 g whelks — thoroughly washed and soaked in cold water for 3-4 hours
  • 1 medium onion — chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 100 ml dry white wine
  • 100 g tomatoes — chopped
  • 1 chilli — chopped
  • olive oil
  • fish stock
  1. Drain the whelks. Add to a pan along with the tomatoes garlic and chilli. Cover with fish stock and simmer until the whelks can be removed from their shells (with the aid of a tooth pick) About 10 minutes. Keep a couple of shells for decoration. Discard the stock.
  2. In a clean pan, fry the onion in a little olive oil. Add the whelk meat and fry for another minute. Add the wine and let it evaporate. Add the parsley and remove from the heat.
  3. Cook the pasta and toss with the whelk sauce. Serve immediately
Pasta with whelks finished dish

Pasta with whelks finished dish

PS The more sharp eyed among you will have noticed that when I cooked this dish I couldn’t find lumache. Isn’t that just typical :-) I used gnocchi instead.


Fennel ‘alla diavola’


Finocchi alla diavola.  Alla diavola  translates as ‘the devil’s way’ which usually means a little spicy. In this case it means that the dish includes hot mustard. The recipe comes from the Silver Spoon, so I haven’t actually seen it in Italy. It is good for people who don’t normally like fennel, as the mustard and vinegar remove the strong aniseed taste that many people find distasteful. Serves 4.

Fennel alla diavola ingredients

Fennel alla diavola ingredients


  • 4 salted anchovies (or 8 tinned fillets) — cleaned, filleted and soaked, then chopped
  • 50 ml  olive oil
  • 4 fennel bulbs — trimmed and cut into wedges
  • 1 tsp dijon or English mustard
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • juice of a lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil in a pan, add the anchovies and cook, mashing with a wooden spoon, until they have almost disintegrated, then add the fennel.
  2. Mix together the mustard and vinegar, season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the mixture over the fennel.
  3. Cover and cook over a low heat, stirring frequently, until the fennel is tender. Add a little water from time to time if necessary.
  4. Remove the fennel from the pan and place on a warmed serving dish. Turn up the heat, add the lemon juice to the cooking liquid and stir until it starts to thicken
  5. Pour the sauce over the fennel and serve.
Fennel alla diavola finished dish

Fennel alla diavola finished dish



Mussels ‘au gratin’

mussels au gratin ingredients

  • 1 kg mussels,thoroughly cleaned
  • 100g bread crumbs
  • 2 sprigs parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • zest of a lemon, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  1. Open the mussels by putting them in pan with a little olive oil and heating for around 5 minutes
  2. Remove the top shell from each mussel and arrange them in a single layer on a baking tray.
  3. Mix together the bread crumbs, parsley, chilli, garlic and lemon zest in a bowl.
  4. Add a little olive oil and mix again. Keep adding olive oil in the way until the mixture has a ‘crumble’ like consistency
  5. Top each half shell with a little of the mixture.mussels au gratin assembled
  6. Bake for around 15 minutes at 200 C

mussels au gratin finished dish

Gnocchetti sardi with mussels

This is a semi-soup. Be careful when adding the cooking liquid from the pasta, you don’t want it to be too sloppy.  Serves 4

Gnocchetti sardi with mussels ingredients

Gnocchetti sardi with mussels ingredients

  • 400 grams  mussels — thoroughly cleaned
  • 200 grams  Gnocchetti sardi
  • 1 clove  garlic — finely chopped
  • a few chilli flakes
  • olive oil
  • 4 sprigs  parsley — finely chopped
  1. Put the mussels in a pan along with a little olive oil, the garlic, parsley and chilli
  2. Cover and cook over a high heat until the mussels open. About 5 minutes. Remove the meat from the mussels, reserving a few for decoration, and return to the pan.
  3. Cook the pasta in plenty of salted water until al dente.
  4. Drain the pasta, reserving a few tablespoons of the cooking liquid.
  5. Add the pasta and the reserved cooking liquid to the mussels.
  6. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes and serve.
Gnocchetti sardi with mussels finished dish

Gnocchetti sardi with mussels finished dish

Grilled cuttlefish

I was reminded of this recipe by a recipe by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall in last Thursday’s International Guardian.

I used my own homemade chilli oil. To make it add some dried chillis to a bottle of olive oil and leave it for a couple of weeks. If you can’t wait for 2 weeks, use fresh chilli or chilli flakes.

If you want to know how to butterfly squid or cuttlefish, check out Hugh’s article here. Or watch this video

Serves 4

grilled cuttlefish ingredients

  •   2  medium cuttlefish (or squid) — cleaned and butterflied
  •   chilli oil
  •   1 large clove garlic — finely chopped
  •   salt and pepper
  1. Chop off the tentacles and butterfly the cuttlefish
  2. Divide each set of tentacles into 2
  3. Season the cuttlefish with the garlic, salt and pepper and a good slug of chilli oil
  4. Heat a grill pan to the hottest temperature you can manage
  5. Grill cut side up for about 2 minutes
  6. Turn and grill for a further 2 minutes
  7. Turn once more and grill for a final minute
  8. Serve with a salad on the side
Grilled cuttlefish finished dish

Grilled cuttlefish finished dish

Stuffed chicken legs with Parma ham.

This dish looks quite tricky to prepare but is actually very easy. It’s been a favourite of mine for a while now. It turns an ordinary chicken leg into quite a show off dish. Serves 4

Stuffed Chicken Leg ingredients

Stuffed Chicken Leg ingredients

  • 4 whole chicken legs — leg and thigh
  • 4 slices parma ham
  • 50 grams bread crumbs — freshly ground
  • 1 tablespoon parsley — chopped
  • 1/4 whole nutmeg — grated
  • 75 grams mortadella — chopped
  • 1 clove garlic — chopped
  • 2 eggs
  • pepper
  • Bone the legs. This is a bit fiddly but not too difficult. You should get one roughly rectangular shaped fillet from each leg.
Boned fillet

Boned fillet

  • Mix together the eggs, bread crumbs, parsley, garlic, mortadella and nutmeg to make the stuffing. Season with pepper. Don’t add salt because both the mortadella and the parma ham are quite salty.
  • Place 1/4 of the mix along the centre of each leg fillet.
Fillet with stuffing

Fillet with stuffing

  • Roll up to form a sausage shape and then wrap with a slice of Parma ham. If the slices are quite small then you might have to use two. It is easiest if you place the ham flat on a chopping board, place the chicken on top and then roll up.
stuffed chicken leg ready to cook

stuffed chicken leg ready to cook

  • Place on an oiled baking tray and roast for 20 minutes at 200°C 400°F or gas mark 6
  • Allow to rest for a few minute and then slice into thick rounds.
Stuffed chicken leg finished dish

Stuffed chicken leg finished dish

Note. The is my version of a recipe by Antonio Carluccio. The original used back bacon instead of Parma ham. If you use bacon you will probably have to tie the fillets with kitchen string. You will also need to brown them in olive oil before roasting

Penne Arrabbiata

There are 1001 different versions of penne arrabbiata. Here’s mine. (So does that now make 1002? :-) )  The name means angry penne because of the chilli. Feel free to adjust the chillies if you prefer it milder or hotter. I even heard of someone cooking it without any chilli! They still insisted on calling it penne arrabbiata though. I would have thought penne felice would have been more appropriate :-) Serves 4

Penne arrabbiata ingredients

Penne arrabbiata ingredients

  • 320 g  penne rigate
  •  100 g  pancetta — cubed
  •  2 Fresh or dried chillies — chopped
  •  2 cloves  garlic — chopped
  • 200 g tomato — peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 50 g parmesan cheese — grated
  • A large sprig of parsley — chopped
  1. Fry the pancetta for a few minutes. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for
    a few more minutes
  2. Add the tomatoes and cook over medium heat for around 20 minutes
  3. Cook the pasta until al dente
  4. Mix the sauce with the pasta and then mix in the cheese and parsley.
Penne arrabbiata finished dish

Penne arrabbiata finished dish

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter

Farfalle Gialle e Verdi. I had this for dinner tonight. Rather nice, even if I do say so myself. :-) Serves 4

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter ingredients

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter ingredients

  1. Fry Courgettes in a little olive oil over high heat until transparent. Set aside
  2. Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente.
  3. Melt the butter in a baine marie. Add the saffron and let it infuse.
  4. Mix the pasta with the saffron butter
  5. Add the fried courgettes and mix well.
  6. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and serve
Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter finished dish

Pasta with courgettes and saffron butter finished dish