Please do not hold a grudge on me, my Roman friends, but let’s admit that the Roman cuisine is essentially oriented to the “basics” and to a rusticity that I often do not appreciate. Yet, give credit where credit is due: there are excellent recipes among the Roman ones too, and what I am describing today is exactly one of them, a very easy pasta, though rich in taste and flavour. The must is the ricotta cheese: it has to be the best you can afford.
- 400 gr rigatoni
- 300 gr ricotta cheese
- 80 gr parmesan, freshly grated
- 14 date or cherry tomatoes
- 1 bunch fresh basil
- 5 tbsp extravirgin olive oil of extra good quality, plus extra to garnish
- black pepper, freshly ground, to your taste
In a large bowl whisk by hand the ricotta, parmesan and pepper until creamy. Dice the tomatoes to super tiny cubes and add to the ricotta mixture, together with the basil leaves, washed, drained, pat-dried and cut by hand into small stripes. Season with the oil and let rest for 2 hours at room temperature. Add some sea salt only before serving.
Boil the rigatoni in salted water (keep 1 cup of water in case the sauce is too thick), transfer to the bowl with the sauce and toss everything together. Add a further glug of oil, salt to your taste, some extra pepper and serve.
Potatoes like these are a mind-blowing experience and, OMG, so easy to prepare and so inexpensive that there’s nothing more to tell in order to persuade you. Try them, Scouts honour!
- 1 kg potatoes, peeled and cubed into sizes of 2,5 x 2,5 cm
- 200 gr butter
- 100 gr breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp cinnamon powder
- 1/4 tsp cloves powder
Place the potatoes in cold, salted water with a tbsp vinegar. Bring to a boil and let cook until the potatoes are soft, yet chunkie. Drain and let cool to room temperature.
In a large pan melt the butter, when foaming add the breadcrumbs and spicies and let cook until golden.
Add the potatoes and mix well until completely coated with the sauce. Season with salt and pepper to your taste and serve hot.
What is better than figs dipped in a sea of creamy ricotta cheese mix and surprisingly, deliciously crunchy? Either prepared the day ahead and refrigerated or eaten lukewarm, this is a cake you will treasure.
- 500 gr fresh ricotta cheese
- 800 gr figs, ripe but not too soft
- 200 gr caster sugar
- 40 gr brown sugar
- 4 free range eggs
- 6 amaretti biscuits (optional) or 50 gr almonds, skin on, coarsely crushed
- 50 gr butter
In a large bowl mix the ricotta, egg yolks and caster sugar working with a fork.
Whisk the egg whites until stiff and glossy, then incorporate into the ricotta mix.
Grease a ceramic baking dish with some butter, scatter with a few breadcrumbs discarding the excess, then pour the batter. Place the figs halfway in the batter, forming a circle.
Scatter the butter flakes on top, sprinkle the brown sugar and bake in the oven at 190°C for 15 minutes. Now sprinkle the amaretti, crushed with a mortar and pestle, or with the almonds, and bake for an additional 30 minutes. If the gratin becomes too golden, cover with aluminum foil.
Kings of the summer, peppers like these are very simple to prepare yet feature a delicious Middle Eastern flavour which will make you dream of pleasantly being away from home.
- 4 bell peppers
- 100 gr hazelnuts
- 50 gr white sesame seeds
- 2 tsp cumin
- 3 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp vinegar, any kind
- 1 garlic clove
- bread crumbs
Toast the hazelnuts and sesame seeds separately. Let them cool to room temperature, then add the cumin and coriander and reduce to a powder with a food processor. This mix is called Duqqah and it is very common in the Middle East, where they are used to eating it over slices of bread previously dipped in olive oil.
Wash the peppers, eliminate the white part and seeds and quarter them regularly.
In a small food processor, or using a hand blender, emulsify the oil with the vinegar and garlic.
Place the peppers on an oven tray covered with parchment paper, coat with the sauce using a kitchen brush, sprinkle over 3 tbsp of Duqqah (keep the rest in a glass jar up to 1 month) and the same quantity of bread crumbs.
Spray with extra oil.
Bake in the oven, 150° C fan, for around 50 minutes, until brown and crispy.
Season with salt and pepper and serve lukewarm.
Normally served with game and soaked with butter, these potatoes are of Swedish origin: crispy golden stacks of delicious potatoes cooked in the oven with a zing of lemon and herbs are perfect with whatever main dish you like, be it meat or not. As an Italian, I normally go for extravirgin olive oil, but if you fancy using butter, feel absolutely free to do so.
- 1,5 kg potatoes, peeled
- 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 100 ml extravirgin olive oil (or butter) + extra for the oven dish
Slice the potatoes about 0,25 cm thick using a mandoline or the food processor and place in a bowl with cold water.
Finely chop the zest of the lemons, add to the garlic and combine everything with the oil (or melted butter)and herbs.
Drain the potatoes, pat dry and stack the slices around the edges of an oven dish, previously greased with oil or butter, alligning them tightly so that each stack supports the other. Drizzle over the sauce, add some sea salt and pepper to your taste and bake in the oven at 180° C with fan.
Bake for 75 minutes, until crisp and golden: if the potatoes are going too brown, cover with aluminum foil. Test the potatoes with a skewer to make sure they are properly cooked through, then remove from the oven and serve hot.