Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli

Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino. Another simple dish that is popular all over Italy. Serves 4.

Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli ingredients

  • 320 grams spaghetti
  • Garlic to taste — peeled and left whole
  • 1 fresh red chilli — whole
  • Olive oil

  1. Heat plenty of oil in a pan and fry the garlic cloves and chilli until the garlic has browned.
  2. Remove the garlic and chilli. Discard.
  3. Season with salt to taste.
  4. Cook the spaghetti al dente, drain and dress with the flavoured oil.

Variations:

  1. Add chopped parsley before serving.
  2. Use dried chillis
  3. For a much stronger flavour, chop the garlic and chilli and don’t remove from the oil.

Spaghetti with garlic, oil and chilli


Grilled aubergines

puglia crest Melanzane arrostite. From Puglia.

 

 

  • 600g aubergines, cut into thin slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 handful mint leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 handful parsley, finely chopped
  • olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • Salt and pepper

 

 

 

  1. Sprinkle the aubergine with salt and drain in a colander for around an hour. Rinse and dry with kitchen towels.
  2. Grill the slices, prefferably on a barbecue.
  3. Arrange the aubergines in layers in a dish. Season each layer with garlic, mint, parsley, pepper, a good drizzle of oil and a few splashes of vinegar.
  4. Leave to rest for a few hours.
  5. Drizzle with a little more oil when you are ready to serve.

 

 

 

 

Poor man’s courgettes – Salento style

Zucchine alla poverella, versione salentina. From Salento, Puglia.

  • 1 kilogram courgettes, washed and cut into chunks
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
  • olive oil
  • parsley, chopped
  • salt

  1. Sprinkle the courgettes with salt and drain in a colander for a while to remove some of their liquid.
  2. Fry the cloves of garlic in plenty of olive oil until golden. Remove the garlic and discard.
  3. Add the courgettes to the pan and fry until done. Note: Shake the pan rather than stirring to avoid the courgettes becoming mushy.
  4. Adjust the salt, sprinkle with parsley and serve as an antipasto or a side dish (it is also good cold)

Tuna alla Genovese

genoa crest Tonno alla Genovese. From Genova. Serves 6.



  • 600g Fresh tuna, cut into 6 steaks
  • 2 salted anchovies, soaked and filleted
  • 30g dried porcini mushroom, soaked in warm water for half an hour and drained. Reserve the liquid.
  • Olive oil
  • Pepper
  • 1 glass dry white wine
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • Salt
  • Plain flour
  1. Heat some oil in a pan and add the onion, garlic, mushrooms and parsley. Fry for a few minutes.
  2. Add the anchovie fillets and allow them to dissolve.
  3. Add the wine, the mushroom liquid and a table spoon of flour. Allow to cook for 6 or 7 minutes.
  4. Add the tuna, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook over a low heat for around an hour.

Mussels alla marinara

Cozze alla marinara. All dishes called alla marinara were originally prepared by fishermen from the ingredients readily available to them on board. This dish is very simple, but delicious all the same.

  • 2 kilograms Mussels, cleaned
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Plenty of pepper
  1. Heat a dry pan to a high heat.
  2. Add the mussels and plenty of black pepper.
  3. As soon as all the mussels have opened, remove from the heat and sprinkle on the parsley.
  4. Serve in bowls along with the liquid they released during cooking. Mop up the juice with some crusty bread.

Octopus salad

puglia crestInsalata di polpi. From Puglia. This is one of my favourite antipasti.

 

Octopus salad ingredients

Octopus salad ingredients

 

  • 1 large Octopus (at least 500g), cleaned
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Olive oil
  • White wine vinegar
  • 1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper

 

 

 

  1. Put the octopus in a large saucepan and cover with cold water.
  2. Bring to the boil and cook over a medium heat until tender – about 25 minutes.
  3. Allow to partially cool in the cooking liquid.
  4. Cut into bite size pieces, dress with vinegar and garlic and allow to marinate for at least a couple of hours.
  5. When you are ready to serve, adjust the seasoning and dress with olive oil and parsley.
  6. Serve as an antipasto or main course
  7. Variation: Substitute lemon juice for the vinegar.

 

 

Octopus salad finished dish

Octopus salad finished dish

 

Tagliatelle with broad bean puree

Lagane con pure di fave. From Puglia. This is another example of la cucina povera or peasant food. It uses very frugal ingredients but the results are delicious. These dishes have enjoyed a bit of a renaissance recently in Italy. Rightly so in my opinion. Serves 5

  • 500 grams tagliatelle (preferably fresh) (known locally as lagane)
  • 250 grams dried, skinned broad beans — soaked overnight
  • 50 grams onion — thinly sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Put the beans into a saucepan and cover with twice the depth of water. Add salt (the original recipe called for a tablespoon!) and cook over a medium heat, without stirring, until the beans are very soft. Mash with a wooden spoon.
  2. Fry the onion in plenty of olive oil until they are starting to caramelize.
  3. Cook the tagliatelle al dente, drain and mix with the puree.
  4. Transfer to a serving dish, pour over the onions and their cooking oil and serve immediately.

 

Stuffed mussels

Cozze ripiene. From Bari. This recipe was given to me by Marilisa – thanks a lot for taking the trouble. They were delicious 🙂 It’s actually her granny’s recipe and Marilisa’s favourite. The recipe seems a bit daunting as you have to open the raw mussels, but it’s really not that difficult. Follow the link below if you want to know how. Serves 4-5

Stuffed mussels ingredients

Stuffed mussels ingredients

  • 1 kilogram large mussels
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 1 bread roll — crust removed
  • parsley — finely chopped
  • 100 grams Pecorino Romano or Parmesan — grated
  • milk
  • olive oil
  • garlic to taste — finely chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • kitchen string
  • 2 bottles passata
    • Clean the mussels and open them keeping the shells attached
    • Soak the bread roll in a little milk and tear into small pieces.
    • Beat the eggs in a bowl and mix with the cheese, garlic, parsley and bread. Season with salt and pepper.
    • Add breadcrumbs little by little until you have a fairly dry stuffing mix.
    • Stuff the mussels with the mixture and tie them almost closed with kitchen string. Don’t tie them too tightly as the stuffing has to come into contact with the cooking sauce.
Stuffed mussels ready to cook

Stuffed mussels ready to cook

  • Heat some oil in a large pan and add some chopped garlic. When the garlic has coloured add the tomatoes. Cook over a medium heat for about 15 minutes.
  • Add the mussels and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  • Remove the mussels from the sauce and remove the string.
  • Serve the sauce with spaghetti or linguine as a first course.
  • The mussels can be served as the second course or as part of an antipasto (hot or cold)
Stuffed mussels finished dish

Stuffed mussels finished dish

Stuffed mussels with pasta finished dish

Stuffed mussels with pasta finished dish

Ragu alla Barese

Bari crestThis is another recipe from Tiziana (many thanks). This one of the most common ‘Sunday lunches’ in Bari. I think it’s known as “Sunday gravy” in the Sates. The recipe doesn’t give very precise measurements as it depends how many people you are cooking for and your personal taste.  As a rough guide allow 2-300g of meat per person. Tiziana usually serves the ragu with orecchiette, but you can use your favourite pasta. Serve the meat separately as the second course.

Ragu alla Barese ingredients

Ragu alla Barese ingredients

  • Thin slices of meat (you can use beef, veal, pork, or horse meat),flattened with meat mallet
  • Pieces of lamb (preferably on the bone)
  • Lardo(salted lard) or prosciutto fat or fatty pancetta
  • Parsley
  • Garlic
  • Pepper
  • Pecorino Romano cheese, grated
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • Passata or tomato pulp
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  1. Chop together the lardo, parsley, garlic, pepper and pecorino to make a coarse paste.
  2. Place a little of the paste in the middle of each slice of meat. Roll up and secure with a toothpick.
  3. Take a large pan(NOT nonstick) and add the onion, some olive oil, the meat rolls, the lamb pieces and half a glass of water.
  4. Cook over a high heat making sure that the meat catches on the bottom of the pan but doesn’t burn. Scrape the pan frequently with a wooden spoon. This is an important step as it contributes a lot of the flavour of the sauce.
  5. Add the wine and allow to evaporate
  6. Add enough passata to cover the meat well
  7. Cook over a very low heat until the meat is tender. (A slow cooker would be ideal)
  8. A few minutes before the end of cooking, season with salt and pepper.
  9. For the best results, allow to cool, refrigerate over night and reheat the next day.
  10. When you are ready to serve, remove the meat and keep warm.
  11. Serve the sauce with pasta as the first course followed by the meat as the second course.
Ragu alla Barese orecchiette

Ragu alla Barese orecchiette

Ragu alla Barese meat

Ragu alla Barese meat

Risi e bisi

Venezia crestIf you prepare this on April 25, you will be carrying on an ancient tradition that dates from the days of the Republic of Venice. This springtime dish of creamy rice and peas is made in Venice and its surroundings area to celebrate the feast day of its patron, Saint Mark. Almost the consistency of a soup, risi e bisi should be served as a course of its own. In the past, risi e bisi was presented on Saint Mark’s Day with much ceremony to the doge, the leader of Venice. You can streamline this dish by using small frozen peas.
Serves 6

  • 500g risotto rice
  • 700g fresh peas (unshelled weight), shelled
  • 80g butter
  • 40g pancetta, cut into small cubes
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • parsley to taste, finely chopped
  • 60g parmesan cheese
  • stock (vegetable or chicken)
  1. Fry the onion, pancetta and parsley in half the butter. When the onions start to colour, add the peas and cook for a further 5 minutes
  2. Add a couple of ladles of hot stock and bring to the boil. Add the rice and stir.
  3. Continue in the usual way for risotto – note: use more stock than for a standard risotto. The finished dish should be quite sloppy – almost like a soup.
  4. When the rice is cooked al dente remove from the heat. Adjust salt and pepper, stir in the parmesan and the rest of the butter. Serve immediately

Giorgio Mantello used the picture above to illustrate an article on his site a cena da Giorgio. This is a translation of his comments:

I chose this image because it shows excellently  what should be the consistency of the risotto – neither too thick nor too liquid – in Venice is said to be “moeche”. which translates as soft and a little sticky. enjoy!

Tiella of potatoes, rice and mussels – Authentic recipe

Bari crestTiella di patate, riso e cozze. Tiella alla Barese. Riso patate cozze. Finally the definitive recipe! This recipe was given to me by Tiziana who is one of the best cooks in Bari (or so her friend Rosa tells me 😉 ) Many thanks Tiziana. It uses mussels which have been opened when they are still raw. My fish monger did this for me, but in the UK you’ll probably have to do this yourself. Here’s a link to show you how. Good luck 🙂
Serves 6
Tiella ingredients

Tiella ingredients

  • 1.5kg potatoes, sliced
  • 300g risotto rice, soaked in cold water
  • 1kg mussels, opened on the half shell – reserve the liquid
  • onions, sliced
  • olive oil
  • garlic, chopped
  • parsley, chopped
  • tomatoes, chopped
  • pecorino Romano, grated
  • parmesan, grated
  • salt and pepper
  1. Assemble the tiella as follows in an ovenproof dish, preferably terracotta
  2. A layer of onions drizzled with oil
  3. A layer of potatoes seasoned with garlic, tomatoes, parsley, sat and pepper, cheese. Drizzle with oil
  4. A layer of mussels seasoned with garlic and parsley. Drizzle with oil
  5. Drain the rice and distribute it over the mussels. Season with garlic, tomatoes, parsley, sat and pepper, cheese. Drizzle with oil
  6. A layer potatoes.
  7. Add the water reserved when you opened the mussels. Add water so that the final layer of potatoes is just covered
  8. Cover tightly (maybe with alumnium foil) and bake at 180°C for up to two hours. Test from time to time with a skewer.
  9. Uncover for the last 20 minutes of cooking to brown the top.
Tiella finished dish

Tiella finished dish

 

 

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.

 

Bucatini with artichoke carbonara or Springtime carbonara

Bucatini alla carbonara di primavera. This dish works very well. It’s now my new favourite artichoke dish (for a week or so anyway 🙂 ) If, like mine, the artichokes are very small, use 6. Serves 4

artichoke carbonara ingredients

320 grams bucatini
3 artichokes — prepared and sliced

40 grams pancetta — cubed
1/2 clove garlic
100 ml vegetable stock
1 sprig parsley — chopped
1 lemon
2 eggs
2 egg yolks
20 grams grana padano — grated
10 grams pecorino Romano — grated
olive oil
salt and pepper

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan and fry the pancetta for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the artichokes, garlic, parsley and stock.
  • Salt and cook over a medium heat for 10 minutes covered and a further 15 minutes uncovered. Keep warm.
  • Take a large bowl (which will be used to serve the pasta). Add the eggs and yolks, a pinch of salt, a generous amount of pepper and the cheese. Beat until you have a smooth paste.
  • Cook the pasta until al dente
  • Drain the pasta and add to the bowl with the egg mix. Toss until the bucatini are well coated. Add the artichokes and mix again.
  • Serve immediately

artichoke carbonara finished dish

Grilled marinated swordfish

Pesce spada in salmoriglio. From Calabria. Serves 4

grilled swordfish ingredients

  • 4 swordfish steaks (about 200 g each)
  • olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • oregano
  • 1 sprig parsley – chopped
  • 1 clove garlic – chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon capers – chopped
  • grated lemon zest
  1. Mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, a generous amount of oregano, parsley, lemon zest and capers to make the marinade. season with salt and pepper. Marinate the swordfish for a couple of hours.
  2. Remove the steaks from the marinade and dry with kitchen paper.
  3. Heat the grill to its maximum heat.
  4. Sprinkle the sword fish with a little oil and grill for a couple of minutes each side.
  5. Sprinkle with some of the reserved marinade and serve.

grilled swordfish finished dish

Carrot and mussel soup

trentino crestCrema di Carote e Cozze. This dish is from Trentino Alto Adige so it is heavily influenced by it’s northern neighbours. Don’t tell my Barese friends, but I found it rather good 🙂 Serves 4

 

carrot and mussel soup ingredients

carrot and mussel soup ingredients

  • 32 large mussels, cleaned
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 700g carrots
  • 70g butter
  • 1 glass white wine
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
  • sugar
  • salt
  1. Dice half of the carrots. Fry in half the butter with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar until caramelized. Put aside.
  2. Finely chop the rest of the carrots. Fry in the rest of the butter for a few minutes with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar. Add the stock, cover and cook until the carrots are soft. Liquidize.
  3. Put the mussels in a pan with the wine and garlic. Place over a high heat until the mussels have opened. Shell the mussels. Strain the cooking liquid and reserve.
  4. Reheat the carrot purée. Add the mussels and their cooking liquid and the diced carrots. Served with the chopped parsley sprinkled over each portion.

carrot and mussel soup finished dish