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.
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.
Agretti are now in season and this recipe enhances their peculiarly earthy and mineral flavour through the delicacy and sweetness of egg yolks. Seemingly simple, this dish instead features an intriguing complexity that balances all the ingredients’s properties.
- 4 free range eggs (prepare extra to leave room for error)
- 160 gr sea salt
- 40 gr brown sugar
- 4 bundles agretti
- 2 tbsp salted capers
- 6 anchovies in oil
- 6 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
- 1 lemon
Eliminate the hard stalks from the agretti, thoroughly wash and boil in slightly salted water for 3-4 minutes. Rinse with running water to keep the colour.
In a food processor place the capers after rinsing well, anchovies, oil, lemon juice, two stripes of zest and whizz until smooth.
Season the agretti with the sauce (keep some for the decoration) then form 4 nests on 4 individual plates.
Mix the salt and sugar, put on a plate and even the surface. Very carefully lay the egg yolks over the mixture and leave to set around 30 minutes. Using your hands, very gently take the egg yolks from the mixture, shortly rinse under running water and lay on the center of the agretti nests. Decorate with a glug of sauce and serve.
This recipe is the result of a melting pot between a Chinese vegetable like Pak Choi and a very typical North Italian ingredient like hazelnut. I hope you appreciate the flavour as well as the easy and extremely quick cooking.
- 1 tbsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped as well
- 2 tbsp sesame oil, or whatever oil you like
- 2 tbsp hazelnuts, skin on
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 medium pak choi, washed, well drained and cut into stripes of 1 cm
In a small pan roast the hazelnuts, let cool to room temperature and reduce to a medium crumble. Set aside.
In a wok or a large, heavy-based pan heat the oil and gently fry the ginger and garlic.
Place the pak choi in the pan, stir well, add the soy sauce and let cook on a medium heat for 2 minutes, frequently stirring. Scatter with the hazelnut crumble and serve hot.
Artichoke patties are an excellent alternative to meat patties, which will surely be appreciated even by the non vegetarian.
For 30 patties
- 3 big artichokes
- 350 gr ricotta cheese
- 100 gr parmesan, grated
- 2 garlic cloves
- extravirgin olive oil
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 1 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
- 40 gr bread crumbs
- zest of 1 organic lemon + the juice for cleaning the artichokes
- 40 gr shelled walnuts, coarsely crushed
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
for the sauce:
- 250 ml Kefir
- the smallest pinch of saffron
Clean and finely slice the artichokes. (see http://www.lagrandemela.info/en/flan-di-carciofi/)
Place the oil and garlic (cloves halved) in a large pan and gently fry until golden, then remove from the pan and add the artichokes. Sautée for 2-3 minutes and pour in the hot vegetable stock. Cover with a lid and let cook over low heat for 10 minutes, until the stock has evaporated and the artichokes are very tender.
Place the artichokes on a board and chop using a knife.
In a bowl pop in the artichokes, ricotta cheese, parmesan, nutmeg, parsley, mint, lemon zest and walnuts. Mix well and if the mixture becomes too soft add the bread crumbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Make the patties using your hands, roll into the bread crumbs and place on a baking tray covered with parchment paper. Spray with some oil and bake in the oven, still, at 200°C for 20/25 minutes, until golden and cooked through. If you prefer, you can fry the patties in hot oil.
Serve with some good Kefir seasoned with salt and the smallest bit of saffron.