Nonna Stella’s Pesto

This recipe is not for what we normally think of as ‘pesto’. A huge number of Italian sauces start with what’s known as a ‘soffritto’. Usually that means finely chopped onions, carrots ,celery, and possibly garlic. Nonna Stella prepares her soffritto in advance and keeps it in a jar in the fridge. She also adds celery leaves, parsley and basil to the mix. When you need to make a sauce, let’s say for example a tomato sauce, all you need to do is fry a couple of tablespoons of the pesto for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes. Cook it down for ten minutes and you’re done. Fast food Italian style 🙂 . This is possibly the most useful recipe I’ve picked up. It will keep almost indefinitely in the fridge, if you remember to keep it covered with about a centimeter of oil.

pesto ingredients

You’ll need:-

  • Good olive oil
  • Onions
  • Carrots
  • Celery (Including leaves if possible)
  • Basil
  • Parsley
  • The quantities are a matter of taste, but I use roughly equal quantities of onions and carrots and halve the quantity of celery.
  1. Peel the onions and carrots.
  2. Roughly chop the onions, carrotts and celery and whizz in a food processor, adding a little oil from time to time, until you have a smooth paste.
  3. Add a good handful each of celery leaves, basil and parsley and process again, adding more oil when necessary, until the herbs are incorporated into the paste.
  4. Transfer to a clean jar, a traditional pickle jar would be ideal, and pour a least a centimeter of oil on top.
    Keep in the fridge until needed.

pesto finished

Here’s Nonna Stella herself to show you how it’s done.

The pesto will only be as good as the ingredients you use. Above all, use the best olive oil you can find. Nonna Stella is very proud of the oil produced by her grandson in Cassano. They don’t have to buy oil in her house. I wish I had a supply 🙂


Nonna Stella’s courgette and mint frittata

Bari crestI stumbled across  this recipe on youtube. Nonna (granny) Stella has decided to provide us with a video course on ‘la cucina barese’ – the cuisine of Bari. Each episode shows Nonna explaining a recipe to her grandson. It’s really a pleasure to watch this wonderful old lady in action.  Like all the best cooks, Nonna doesn’t give precise measurements. She does it by look and feel. At one point he comments  ‘you’re using a lot of oil’ and Nonna replies ‘ that was 3 tablespoons’. All I can say is that they must have big tablespoons in her house 🙂
This is my attempt at the recipe.

Courgette frittata ingredents

Courgette frittata ingredents

Serves 4

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves
  • 4 courgettes, diced
  • 1 medium  onion
  • 4 tbsp  parmesan cheese or grana— grated
  • 3 tbsp  olive oil (!?!!)
  1. Fry the courgette, onion and mint in a non stick frying pan until the courgette has changed colour.
  2. Be careful not to overcook it. (You don’t want mushy courgettes). Season with a little salt.
  3. Crack the eggs into a bowl and add the cheese. Mix well.
  4. When the courgettes are ready, add the eggs to the pan.
  5. Stir for the first minute or so and then wait for the eggs to start to set, shaking the pan from time to time to keep the frittata loose.
  6. When the eggs have set, turn the frittata with the aid of a plate, and return it to the pan.
  7. After another couple of minutes cooking, the frittata is ready
Courgette and mint frittata finished dish

Courgette and mint frittata finished dish