Insalata di Tonno e Cannellini

Insalata Tonno e Cannellini

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Summer we missed you so much! To celebrate the beautiful sunshine I would like to share a very simple and versatile salad dish that you can have as a starter, a main or a side dish. I learned that freshness and simplicity are always the key to a successful meal….most of all  if you are feeding some hungry teenagers 🙂

I made this salad for a few events that I held in our local community, the exciting thing thing for children is to prepare all the ingredients and to assemble together but the best thing is that children (and grownups) LOVE this dish as it’s full of flavour, freshness and colours.

If you are a vegetarian and you don’t eat fish, you can leave the tuna out and add a handful of cherry tomatoes 🙂

Nonna has always taught us to keep our dishes simple and fresh, this recipe is just perfect for everyone to be eaten in a hot day like today. 

Beautiful and fresh for lunch and dinner, this is perfect as a side dish for a BBQ  

Ingredients

  • one red onion, chopped
  • 400g Cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 red or yellow pepper, diced  
  • handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 3tbs olive oil
  • salt 
  • 2tbs balsamic vinegar
    • 160g Tuna chunks in spring water
    • handful of olives ( I used Nocellara olives but any good quality olives will be fine)

Directions

  1. In a serving dish mix together the cannellini beans, the diced pepper, the diced onion, the tuna, the olives, the basil, the salt, the olive olive oil and the balsamic vinegar.
  2. Ready !!! 🙂
  3. Enjoy on its own or with meat or fish

 

 

Polpette al Sugo – Meatballs in Red Sauce

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Polpette = Meatballs = Italian Comfort Food 🙂

Nonna and Mamma used to make Meatballs all the time and I can still remember the excitement about dinner time!

In a cold day I used to love coming home from school to find one of my favourite dishes, Pasta and Meatballs in a rich tomato sauce…. awww it tasted amazing!!!

Today I am making this dish for my family and I hope I can inspire your family too!

#BringNonnaBack and Bring Families Together ❤️

Serves 4/6 people

 

Ingredients for the Polpette-Meatballs

250g beef Mince, good quality
250g pork mince
1 egg
100g bread crumbs
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
handful of parsley, finely chopped
l pinch of salt
sunflower oil for frying

Preparation
In a large bowl place the mince and add the egg, parsley, garlic, salt and bread crumbs. Mix all together with a fork or with your hand making sure you combine all the ingredients. If the mix feels too wet you can add some more bread crumbs, if it feels too dry add a splash of milk. Once the mix is smooth you can start rolling it into small balls, size of a 10p coin. I tent to make them a bit small as it’s easier for the children to eat them all in one go!

Option 1: Heat some sunflower oil in a large pan (filling all the bottom of the pan )and place 6/8 meatballs at the time. Cook them for 4/5 minutes, keep stirring them until golden. Prepare a large dish with some kitchen roll on the side and once the meatballs are ready to come out the pan, drain them and place them on the  kitchen roll to rest and to lose some of the oil. Add a pinch of salt. Keep doing the same until you have cooked all the meatballs.
Option 2: Preheat the oven at 200 degrees, place the meatballs on a flat oven tray and put the in the oven for 25 minutes until golden.

For the Sugo-Sauce

Ingredients
Half of a medium white onion, finely chopped
800/900g of plain tomato Passata (You can find passata in any good supermarket, it’s in a carton or in a bottle)
A handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
Olive oil, 2 tbs
Salt, a pinch
Sugar, a pinch (to lower the acidity of the tomatoes)
Preparation

Heat a large pan, add the olive oil and the onion. Simmer the onion only for a few minutes untill golden, don’t cook it for too long as it can easily burn.
Add the passata, the salt and sugar and cover with a lid.
PLAN B: if you haven’t got any passata 2 tins of chopped or plum tomatoes will do! Blend them first if possible and pour them into the oil, follow the instructions as before
Turn the heat down and let it cook for 10 minutes, stirring it every now and again.
Finally add your basil and let the sauce embrace the leaves… your Sugo is ready!
Place the meatballs into the sauce, make sure they are all covered, put the lid on and  keep cooking the sauce and the meatballs for another 10 minutes on a low heat.
Enjoy your Polpette with some fresh bread or pasta. Buon Apettito!

Camone – Amore

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I was walking around Borough Market the other day hunting for some fresh produce and  amongst all the lively and colourful tents the most beautiful stall of vegetables had my favourite Sardinian tomatoes! I was elated !!! I grew up eating tomatoes, when I say eating them I mean, both my brother and I used to “steal” them from the fridge and eat them whilst watching the telly… no crisps, no sweets, or any other type of snacks….. at the time only fresh and juicy tomatoes.

The Camone tomatoes  /CAH-MOH-NEH/  have all the properties of the other tomatoes and a distinctive texture followed by the sweetest taste that makes your mouth water at the first bite. If you have never tried I would definitely recommend them. Raw, with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt is what makes them so special. And guess what? They are at the heart of the Mediterranean diet, they are an excellent source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum and vitamin K, copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A (in the form of beta-carotene), vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E and phosphorus.

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Tomatoes are not only great in salads but I also put them in my children’s pack lunch, my children take after me…..they would eat tomatoes all day long and they also love them as a snack after they come back from school.

My Nonna and my Mamma have done a great job teaching me all I needed to know about eating fresh and healthy produce. Grazie! #BringNonnaBack

Do you you like balsamic vinegar? If you do I have a delicious recipe for you to try:

POMODORINI AL FORNO ALL’ACETO BALSAMICO

Ingredients for 4 people

1 punnet of cherry or baby plum tomatoes (250g-300g)

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

3 tablespoon of good quality balsamic vinegar

handful of fresh Basil

2 bay leaves

salt, pinch

olive oil, 2/3 tbs

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200 degrees. Wash the tomatoes and place them into an oven proof dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the bay leaves and basil,  add the garlic, add the balsamic vinegar and mix. Place in the oven for 10 minutes and serve as a side dish to a meat of fish recipe ….. BUONISSIMI!

Peperonissimi

I love peppers and I love them even more when roasted. They complement any dish, I like them with rice, pasta, fish and meat, although on their own are just perfect! Peppers are very popular in Italian cuisine despite the fact that most people might think they are more prominent in Spanish dishes…..well the truth is that wherever you are, Italy, Spain, UK etc… they taste beautiful, you only need to bring their extra flavour out by adding some simple ingredients. For this recipe capers and anchovies do the trick and at home we all love it!

My Nonna used to fill “peperoncini” ( small type of peppers) with chillies and anchovies or with ricotta cheese and anchovies!

#BringNonnaBack today with my version of her peperoncini!

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

5/6 yellow and red peppers,halved

a handful of basil, finely chopped

a handful of parsley, finely chopped,

1 large clove of garlic, finely chopped

1 tin of anchovies, finely chopped

2 tbsp of capers, finely chopped

1 tsp olive oil for drizzling

Preparation

Preheat the oven at 200c (190c fan oven). Halve the peppers and put them on an oven tray. In a large bowl mix the anchovies, basil, capers, parsley and garlic making a thick looking paste.  Fill the peppers with the paste, drizzle with a little olive oil and put them into the oven for 15/20 minutes. The smell of roasted peppers will fill your house, wait till you taste them!

They are simply delicious x

You can have this dish as a side to a BBQ, everyone will tuck in! IMG_0902 IMG_0903 IMG_0907

A STAR!!……… MINESTRONE

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I know this might not be a very “refreshing” dish but the weather outside is still a bit uncertain and a warm soup full of stars might brighten up our dinner time. This is what in Italian we call : Minestrone, a classic dish that most of Italian children would eat only because they have to! It’s the dish that every Nonna cooks, it’s a must in school dinner menus and it’s the Godfather of the left overs. You’ll be eating it for days and days!

Based on this introduction I will #Bring Nonna Back!!! Bring wholesome, fresh and healthy food back on the table!!! Hey! It worked with me in the 80’s!! I am now going to celebrate this dish and introduce it to modern families of 2015. Add your children’s favourite pasta shape (Lettere-letters, Conchiglie-shells, Farfalline-butterflies ….), they’ll enjoy it even more 🙂

Serves 4 people

Ingredients

1 stick of celery

2 carrots

half of one onion

1 large potato

2 sweet potatoes

150g lentils

1 tin of plum tomatoes

small handful of fresh basil

1lt chicken or vegetable stock ( gelatine stock cubes are great as well, 1 cube per litre)

150g of pasta for soup ( stars, mini farfalle, conchigliette…. you can find them in any local supermarket)

pinch of salt

tbs of olive oil

Preparation

Boil the kettle and pour the hot water in jug with a gelatine cube. Stir it until the cube dissolves and put it aside. Dice the onion, carrots, celery, potato and sweet potatoes. Into a large pot heat the olive oil and add the vegetables. Simmer for a couple of minutes on a medium heat. Add the salt. Pour the stock in the pot. Put the lid on and cook on a low heat. Place the plum tomatoes in a blender with the basil and blend until smooth. Pour the tomatoes into the pot and stir. Wash the lentils under the tap and add them into the soup. Stir and put the lid back on. Add the pasta as well and cook for 15 minutes until the lentils are soft. Your Minestrone is Pronto!   Enjoy with some fresh bread.

P.S. Any vegetable you have in your fridge will add extra flavour, you can never overload your Minestrone….kale, courgette, broccoli, peas, green beans, cauliflower, butter nut, pumpkin…….

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The Sexiest and Simplest Prawn Salad

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After being chosen as an Ambassador for Food Revolution in my area I just had to come up with a dish to celebrate this great achievement. What better than a salad with some of my favourite ingredients all together? Since Food Revolution is to do with the idea of cooking freshly and healthily, which is basically what I love doing, I am very proud to be part of this huge initiative and I hope I can inspire other Mums with my recipes and cooking skills. Healthy food for healthy and happy children!!!!

Ingredients

4/5 medium prawns, cooked and peeled

2 medium tomatoes

couple of cherry tomatoes

handful of iceberg lettuce

handful of rocket

handful of red cabbage

150g natural cottage cheese

1 tablespoon of olive oil

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar (or glaze if preferred)

handful of basil leaves (half finely chopped, half kept whole)

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Serves 1 person

Preparation

Have your lettuce and cabbage washed and chopped. On a plate start placing the lettuce, cabbage, rocket and the cherry tomatoes. Add the prawns. Slice the medium tomatoes in three and place them on the side of the plate. Use a tea spoon to scoop some of the cheese and put it on top of the tomatoes. Sprinkle the basil and add a splash of balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle the rest of the leaves on the salad. Dress with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar….Pronto!!!!

P.S. If you like the combination cottage cheese/ tomatoes, you can always try it with all types of tomato and instead of basil you can sprinkle some dried oregano. They are great as a small appetizer, bite sizes are even better for dinner parties! Did you know cottage cheese has got less fat than mozzarella cheese? 98 calories per 100g against 280 calories per 100g in mozzarella ….. a great alternative 🙂

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A Classic……PASTA with PESTO

IMG_1591So many different versions of Pesto, I know, but this classic Italian recipe is really really easy to make and extremely tasty. I would make enough to store it in the freezer ( an ice cube tray is ideal ) so it’s fresh every time I need it and my Nonna would say : FACCIAMO PROVVISTA    ( Let’s stock up) … Of course it goes with Pasta (we love it with Tagliatelle!) but it’s that kind of sauce that would go with ANYTHING: fish, chicken, roasted vegetables, bruschetta, panini, mozzarella, green salad, fresh tomatoes, potatoes, even pizza! If you have a nut allergy you can miss the pine nuts out and perhaps add some grated parmesan cheese instead. If you want to make it a little bit more adventurous you can add a handful of rocket or for a spicy kick you can add some fresh  chillies.

Serving 4 people

Ingredients

Basil, a good handful, you can’t ever have too much basil!

Parsley, handful half the size of the basil

Garlic, one small clove

a pinch of salt ( you can add a little more if you like 🙂

20g pine nuts

50ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil

300g Pasta (Tagliatelle or your favorite type of pasta)

Preparation

You can either put all of your ingredients into a blender and whisk it up until you get a smooth texture or as an authentic Italian recipe you should use a pestle&mortar. Pesto in Italian means bashed up and that is exactly what you would do with a pestle&mortar, you bash all the lovely ingredients together until you get a smooth texture and your arm starts aching from the strenuous movement while stirring 😉 It’s definitely a good workout too!

Although I said you need 50ml of olive oil you can always add a little more if you feel it looks too dry (just play it by ear).

In a saucepan bring some water to the boil, add a tbsp of salt and put your pasta in, follow the cooking time on the packet. Drain your pasta and mix your pesto in, stir it and add some grated parmesan for some extra flavour. Pronto!!!

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