Taranto mussel soup

taranto crestTaranto produces some of the best mussels in the world. They are often eaten raw as an antipasto, but I have to say, I prefer them cooked. This simple soup is a great way to have them.  Serves 4

taranto mussel soup ingredients

  • 1kg mussels, cleaned thoroughly
  • 300g tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, whole
  • 1 chilli, whole
  • 4 sprigs  parsley, chopped

  1. Open the mussels by heating them, along with a little oil in a covered pan. Reserve the liquid.
  2. In a seperate pan, fry the garlic and chilli until the garlic is nicely browned. Remove the garlic and chilli and discard.
  3. Add the tomatoes to the oil, season with salt and cook over a medium until the tomatoes break down to make a sauce. About 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the meat from most of the mussels, reserving a few for decoration.
  5. Add the mussels along, the cooking liquid and the parsley to the tomatoes and heat through.
  6. Serve with crusty bread or crostini

taranto mussel soup finished dish

Stuffed cuttlefish

This would go just as well with squid. Be careful when removing the cuttlefish ‘bone’ as it’s important to leave the body sack whole. Don’t worry about skinning them as the skin will burn off on the grill.  Serves 4

stuffed cuttlefish ingredients

  8       medium  cuttlefish
  150   grams  pecorino Romano — grated
  150   grams  bread crumbs
  1        medium  egg
  2        cloves  garlic — finely chopped
  1        sprig  parsley — finely chopped
  1        tablespoon  capers — finely chopped
  4        fillets  anchovies — finely chopped
            olive oil
            salt and pepper

  • Clean the cuttlefish, keeping the body whole. Finely chop the tentacles.
  • Mix together in a bowl, the tentacles, bread crumbs,egg, garlic, parsley,
    capers, anchovies, pepper and a good slug of olive oil.
  • Carefully stuff the bodies with the mixture.
  • Brush with olive oil, season with salt and grill for about 20 minutes

grilled cuttlefish finished dish

Risotto with clams


I had quite a few clams left over from the previous recipe, so I had a look around and came up with this recipe. It has very few ingredients, and allows the flavour of the clams to shine through.  Click here for the basic risotto method. Serves 6

risotto with clams ingredients

risotto with clams ingredients

  •   600 grams risotto rice
  •   2 kilograms clams — scrubbed
  •   2 tablespoons olive oil
  •   3 tablespoons butter
  •   3 tablespoons chopped parsley
  1. Put the clams into a saucepan and cover with water
  2. Bring to the boil and simmer until the clams open.
  3. Remove the clams and reserve the water.
  4. Remove the meat from the clams, reserving a few for decoration.
  5. Add the butter and oil to a frying pan and fry the clam meat and parsley for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add the rice and stir fry until the rice starts to turn transparent
  7. Add a little of the cooking liquid and wait for it to be absorbed, stirring all the time.
  8. Keep adding the cooking liquid, little by little, until the rice is cooked.

risotto with clams ingredients

risotto with clams ingredients


Vermicelli with clams

This is a real Italian classic. There are a lot of different recipes for vermicelli con le vongole, some using tomatoes and/or chilli, but this one uses neither. The juice from the clams provides the sauce. Serves 4

vermicelli with clams ingredients

vermicelli with clams ingredients

  • 1  kilogram  clams — Scrubbed
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic — thinly sliced
  • 350 grams vermicelli
  • 1 tablespoon  chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Discard any clams with broken shells or which are open
  2. Heat some oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and clams
  3. Cook until the clams open, about 5 minutes
  4. Remove from the heat and lift out the clam. Discard any that remained closed
  5. Remove the clams from the shell, saving a few for decoration
  6. Strain the liquid from the saucepan into a frying pan and add the meat from the clams.
  7. Cook the vermicelli until al dente, drain and add to the frying pan.
  8. Cook for a couple minutes, tossing frequently.
  9. Adjust the seasoning, add the parsley and serve.
vermicelli with clams

vermicelli with clams

Roast spareribs with garlic and rosemary


Serves 4

Roast spare ribs ingredients

Roast spare ribs ingredients

  • 1 kg  Pork spareribs
  • 2 cloves  garlic
  • 2 sprigs  rosemary — removed from the stalk and roughly chopped
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make incisions in the meat and insert slivers of garlic
  2. Drizzle on some olive oil and make sure the ribs are well covered
  3. Season with salt and pepper and add the rosemary
  4. Roast at 180 °C for about 1 1/4 hours
  5. The ribs should be well coloured and very tender
Roast spare ribs finished dish

Roast spare ribs finished dish


Radicchio risotto

This is another dish from the north. I think the last time I cooked it was more than ten years ago when my brother came to visit. Radicchio is a little bitter, but the harsh flavours mellow into a great, creamy risotto.

radicchio risotto ingredients

radicchio risotto ingredients

Serves 4

  • 160 grams  radicchio di treviso
  • 320 grams  risotto rice – pref Vialone Nano
  • olive oil
  • 30 grams onion – about 1/2 a small one — finely chopped
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • knob of butter
  • 50     grams  parmesan cheese — grated
  1. Wash the radicchio and cut into 1cm strips
  2. Fry the onion in plenty of olive oil for a few minutes
  3. Add the radicchio and fry until it has wilted
  4. Add the rice and continue to cook the risotto using the standard method.
  5. Remove from the heat, add the butter and cheese, and serve
radicchio risotto finished dish

radicchio risotto finished dish

Fusilli with white ragu

This is a lighter alternative to ragu bolognese, ragu bianco. It doesn’t include any tomatoes. Serves 6

White ragu ingredients

White ragu ingredients

  •   500 grams  fusilli
  •   400 grams  minced beef
  •   3      medium  carrots — finely chopped
  •   2      medium  onions — finely chopped
  •   1      stick  celery — finely chopped
  •   1      tablespoon  fresh marjoram — chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
  •   1      glass  white wine
  •           olive oil
  •           meat stock
  •           salt and pepper
  1. Fry the celery, onions and carrots until softened.
  2. Add the wine and let it reduce to almost nothing
  3. Add the meat and enough stock to cover
  4. Cook uncovered, slowly, for at least an hour, adding more stock from time
    to time when it starts to dry out.
  5. Serve with the cooked fusilli and parmesan cheese.

White ragu finished dish

White ragu finished dish

Rigatoni with basil and tomatoes

Somebody was asking for vegan recipes on one of the forums I visit. She is due for a visit from her daughter-in-law and was stuck for ideas. My first thought was ‘Easy! Most of the recipes on the blog are vegan.’ . On closer inspection, however, I realised none of them are 🙂 Vegans eat cheese, don’t they? 😉 I asked around my Italian friends, and after much explanation of the concept of veganism, I came up with this recipe. Baking the dish concentrates the flavour of the tomatoes wonderfully. If you’re cooking it for a strict vegan, check that the bread crumbs don’t contain any milk.   Serves 6

rigatoni with basil ingredients

  300 grams  rigatoni
  1      kilogram  top quality tomatoes — sliced
  1      large bunch of basil — chopped
  1      tablespoon  bread crumbs
          olive oil

  • Cook the rigatoni in salted water. Drain and dress with plenty of olive
    oil, half the basil, and the bread crumbs.
  • Put a layer of the tomatoes in an oiled oven proof dish
  • Top with some basil, a drizzel of oil, a little salt, and a layer of
  • Repeat until all the ingredients have been used up. Finish with a layer of
  • Bake in a medium oven for about 45 minutes
  • Serve hot.

rigatoni with basil and tomatoes finished dish

Orecchiette with anchovies and bread crumbs

This dish is common all over the south of Italy. As simple as can be! Two main ingredients. This being Bari, I was told that the only possible pasta to have it with was orecchiette 🙂 30 minutes down the road they’d tell you something else. I’ve also seen the recipe with bucatini and spaghetti, so I’m sure it would be good with whichever you care to try it with. I asked the person who gave me the recipe how many anchovies to use and she said ‘it depends how much you like anchovies!’ . I like them a lot, so I used 2 whole ones per person (it would have been more but I ran out 🙂 ) Serves 4

orecchiette with anchovies ingredients

orecchiette with anchovies ingredients

  • 320 grams orecchiette
  • 8 whole salted anchovies — filleted, soaked and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons dry bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  1. Fry the anchovies gently in the olive oil until they have completely
  2. Mix with the cooked orecchiette and serve, sprinkled with the bread crumbs
orecchiette with anchovies finished dish

orecchiette with anchovies finished dish

Penne with artichokes

Serves 4

penne with artichokes ingredients

  320  grams  penne rigate
  4       whole  artichokes
  4       tablespoons  olive oil
  1       clove  garlic — chopped
  1       tablespoon chopped parsley
           juice of a lemon

  • Prepare the artichoke and slice thinly. Put it into a bowl of water to which you’ve added the lemon juice.
  • Heat the oil i a pan. Add the garlic and parsley and fry gently for a couple of minutes.
  • Drain the artichokes and add to the pan. Stir well, cover,  and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of water, salt, recover the pan and cook over a low heat until the artichokes are tender – maybe 15 minutes
  • Serve with the cooked penne.

penne with artichokes finished dish


Mushroom ‘arraganati’

This is a great way to cook mushrooms. I used a mixture of cardoncelli and pioppini but it would go well with any kind. Serve it as a side dish with anything you fancy.  It would go great with game.

Serves 4

Mushrooms ingredients

Mushrooms ingredients

  •   480 g  mushrooms — cleaned and halved
  •   60 g  bread crumbs
  •   40 g  pecorino Romano — grated
  •   4 cloves  garlic — chopped
  •   200 g  tomato — chopped
  •   40 ml  olive oil
  •   4 sprigs  parsley — chopped
  1. Mix together the bread crumbs, pecorino, parsley, garlic and oil. Season
  2. Mix with your hands until it comes together.
  3. Put the mushrooms and tomatoes into an oven proof dish and top with the bread crumb mixture
  4. Bake at 180 °C for about half an hour.
Baked mushrooms finished dish

Baked mushrooms finished dish

Artichoke risotto

This recipe is apparently from Sicily. It’s unusual because it uses water instead of stock. If you can’t find salted anchovies,  use 6 fillets in oil instead.

Serves 4

artichoke risotto

artichoke risotto

  • 280g  risotto rice – pref Vialone nano
  • 4 young  artichokes — Prepared and sliced
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 cloves  garlic, chopped
  • 3 salted anchovies, soaked and filleted
  • 30g  pecorino (pref Sicilian peppered), grated
  • a lemon
  1. Soak the artichokes in water to which you’ve added the juice of the lemon
  2. Fry the onions and garlic in a little olive oil for a few minutes until
    they begin to soften
  3. Add the anchovies and the drained artichokes and cook for a further couple
    of minutes
  4. Add the rice and cook until it starts to turn transparent.
  5. Proceed in the usual way for risotto but using boiling water instead of
    stock. You will need just over a litre of water.
  6. When the rice is cooked, remove from the heat and add the cheese.
  7. Let it rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
artichoke risotto finished dish

artichoke risotto finished dish

Marinated anchovies

Another one of my favourites. It’s really easy, but it takes a while to prepare. You must use the freshest anchovies as they are only ‘cooked’ in lemon juice. If you can’t get fresh anchovies where you are, you can use small sardines instead. Great with salad as an antipasto.


  • Fresh anchovies
  • lemons
  • parsley
  • olive oil

Clean, wash and fillet the anchovies and dry with kitchen paper.

preparing fillets

Layer the fillets in a non-metallic dish, season with salt and squeeze
over plenty of lemon juice.
Leave in the fridge for at least 4 hours. They are ready when they are white all the way through.
When you are ready to serve, remove the fillets from the lemon juice, dress with a little oil and sprinkle the parsley on top.

finished dish

Polpette with Gorgonzola

I struggled to find an English translation of polpette. I don’t think ‘burger’  or, even worse ‘rissole’, quite do it justice. In the end I left it in Italian. I’m sure you’ll get the idea 🙂

Serves 4

polpette with gorgonzola ingredients

  400 g veal — minced (or beef)
2 medium onions
100 g fresh bread crumbs
2 eggs
100 g  Gorgonzola cheese
olive oil
Grana cheese

  1. Moisten the breadcrumbs with a little milk
  2. Fry the onion in some oil for a few minutes.
  3. To make the polpette, mix together the veal, bread crumbs, onions, eggs and a little Grana. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Form into ‘burger’ shapes
  5. Dust with flour and fry in olive oil (or a mix of oil and butter) turning them a couple of times
  6. When they are cooked, lower the heat, place a slice of Gorgonzola on each polpetta  and cover the pan
  7. Allow the Gorgonzola to melt  and then serve

polpette with gorgonzola finished dish