Sep 30 2019

Rigatoni alla Checca, a Roman Recipe

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.

Serves 4

  • 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.

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Jun 20 2017

Smoked Herby Aubergine Sauce

This is a very versatile sauce: its smoked taste comes from the aubergine, which is cooked directly on the fire. It would go perfectly with some boiled eggs, grilled fish and roast vegetables.


  • 1 large aubergine
  • 1 bunch fresh coriander
  • 1 bunch fresh parseley
  • 10 basil leaves
  • 100 ml extra virgin oil
  • 80 gr feta cheese
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • zest of 1 organic lemon

Place the aubergine directly on an open flame and let cook until tender, turning every now and then. Slice aubergine halfway, spoon the flesh out and let it drain in a small colander.

Wash and drain the herbs, then pulse in a blender, add the anchovies, the flesh of the aubergine, feta cheese and oil: mix well until soft and creamy. Pour the sauce into a large bowl, add the lemon zest, some ground black pepper, and add some sea salt to taste.

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Vegetarian
Jun 28 2015

Crab and green bean maki

IMG_5952-001These vegetarian maki are easy to make and seriously tasty, they make a great appetizer or starter,  finger food or as light, fast but creative and refined main. You can vary the vegetables Depending on the season and your tastes, of course; and for greater depth, you can replace the surimi with good smoked wild salmon. 

For 16 maki 

  • 8 slices of surimi
  • a handful of green beans
  • 8 pieces of nori seaweed of the same size of surimi
  • 1 cup of greek yogurt
  • 8 basil leaves chopped
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
  • the yolk of a boiled egg
  • paprika

Cook the green beans in salted water for 6-7 minutes until tender, remove and run under cold water and set aside.

Put each slice of surimi on a sheet of seaweed, and for the sauce mix the yogurt with the mustard, egg yolk, olive oil and chopped basil, salt and keep the sauce ready.


On each slice pour a spoonful of sauce, put the green beans in the center, using 5 or 6 if they are thin, otherwise 3 or 4, then roll maki on itself, wetting the edges with a little cold water so That they stick. Cut the maki in half before serving and sprinkle with a little paprika.


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Posted in Starters, Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
May 18 2015

Fava bean patties

IMG_5549 (1024x766)

These vegetarian patties are perfect for spring and extremely easy to make.  The perhaps unusual Fava beans used in this recipe are fairly common in Italy, and especially in Rome, where traditionally we used to eat raw Fava beans accompanied by pecorino cheese while celebrating Labor Day, on the first of May. This is a popular tradition inspired by the old country atmosphere, where people would easily meet each other in the fields and sit to share some simple food together.

For around 20 patties

  • 450 gr Fava beans (net weight), boiled and coarsely chopped
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 100 gr carrots, grated
  • 20 gr fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 70 gr pecorino cheese, grated
  • 30 gr almonds, toasted and crushed
  • 30 gr (or more) white breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Place the fava beans, egg, pecorino, basil, almonds, a pinch of salt and breadcrumbs in a bowl and mix thoroughly. If the mixture isn’t dense enough to form patties, add more breadcrumbs: you should have the same consistency as that of meatballs. Add the carrots and form the patties.


Line a baking tray with parchment paper, oil the base and drizzle the patties with olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in the oven at 180° for 20 minutes, until golden and crispy.

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Posted in Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
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