Jan 15 2019

Peas and Mint Veggie-Vegan Soup

Feeling a little heavy after Christmas? Let’s have a soft detox with this  warm, creamy and healthy veggie-vegan soup: if you want to go vegan, simply omit the feta cheese.

Serves 4

  • 350 fresh or frozen peas (they are not in season!)
  • 1 potato, peeled and diced
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint leaves
  • 2 tbsp extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 red chilli pepper,  thinly chopped
  • 100 gr feta cheese
  • 30 gr almonds, skin on, coarsely chopped

Fry the onion in a heavy-based pan with the extravirgin olive oil and the red chilli pepper. Add the potato cubes and let cook for 10 minutes. Add the peas, mix thoroughly and pour in the pan 500 ml of vegetable stock or boiling water: you might need more, depending on the quality of the potato you chose. Let simmer for further 10 minutes, season with salt and pepper to taste and the mint leaves as well (washed and drained). Place in a food processor and whizz until smooth and creamy.

Dice the feta cheese, transfer the soup in 4 bowls and scatter with the feta or almonds, if you fancy the vegan option.

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Posted in Starters, First course, Recipes, Light recipes, Main dishes, Vegan, Vegetarian
Sep 6 2015

Raspberry and wild strawberry aspic in coconut water

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This beautiful dessert is really just a way to present fresh fruit in a  very scenographic outfit; mine does not contain any sugar, as the natural fruit sugar is enough to make this ‘aspic’ sweet, delicious, and light. Still, I find it to be absolutely stunning, particularly suitable at the end of a summer night dinner. What else? You can make it in advance and it’ll keep in the fridge up to 2-3 days. Having said all this, I hope you are tempted to try it!

Serves 4

  • 500 ml coconut water
  • 10 gr agar agar – whole or 6 gr powder – (white or red: a non coloured water makes the stunning effect of fruit suspended in ice)
  • 120 gr wild strawberries
  • 120 gr raspberries
  • 50 gr fresh coconut, cubed
  • 1 small bunch mint leaves

Break up your agar agar in small pieces if you’re using the whole kind, or simply mix in the powder with half of the coconut water; place in a small sauce pan on medium heat, wait for it to melt and, when you’ll reach a fluid, homogenous mixture let it boil for around 3 more minutes, lightly whisking it.

Pour one quarter of your mixture in a baking tin or a bowl, add mint leaves and let it all rest for 5 minutes. Now add in the coconut (cubed), and another quarter of the mixture, and let it rest for another 5 minutes.

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Meanwhile, rinse the raspberries and strawberries and dry them well; add them to the remaining mixture, then pour into your baking tin or bowl of choice.

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Leave to set in the fridge for at least 6 hours, then place baking tin or bowl in hot water for a few seconds, and turn over. This will make the process much easier.

Your aspic is now ready to eat, you can serve it with coconut butter which makes it sweeter and creamier- although this is not at all necessary. I decorated the top with fresh raspberries and coconut, and a few mint leaves.

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Posted in Desserts, Light recipes, Vegan
Jul 10 2015

Grilled octopus with black cous cous and green pea cream

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A royal recipe based on three main ingredients, which don’t cost the earth. The crispy consistency of the octopus goes well with this black cous cous, which has the looks of caviar, and it is enriched by the green pea cream which gives the dish a special touch of freshness and colour.

Serves 4

  • 1 octopus (around 1 kg)
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 1 onion
  • 2 parsley bunches
  • 1/2 glass of vinegar
  • 2 cups cous cous
  • 2 bags (or bladders) of squid ink
  • 2 cups green peas (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 tbsp mayo mixed with 1 tbsp water or milk; (you can also use soya cream instead)
  • 2 shallots
  • 10 mint leaves
  • extravirgin olive oil
  • zest of 1/2 lemon

Peel the carrot and onion, wash the celery and parsley and place in a pot filled with cold water. Bring to a boil, add vinegar and add the octopus holding it by the head. Take the octopus in and out of the pot 3 o 4 times, so that the tentacles properly curl. Once they’re curled, let octupus cook for 1 hour on low heat, then let cool in the same pot. Now drain the octopus and cut the tentacles from the head, which you can use for something else.

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For the green pea cream, boil the peas in salted water for 6 minutes, refresh under running water and place in the food processor with chopped shallots, mayo mixed with water/milk or soya cream, mint leaves and some sea salt. Reduce to a cream and set aside.

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Now prepare the cous cous. Pour 2 cups of boiling water over the cous cous in a bowl, and let it rest for 10 minutes, covered. Fluff cous cous with a fork and add the squid ink. Once it becomes black, season with 1 tbsp olive oil, lemon zest and a pinch of salt.

Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a pan, quickly fry the tentacles until crispy and set aside. Keep them warm as you’re assembling the dish.

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Carefully place the cous cous on a plate; I used a ring to give it a round shape. Now arrange two octopus tentacles on top and decorate with the green pea cream. Garnish with a drizzle of oil and serve.

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Posted in Main dishes
Dec 19 2014

Lentil-courgette ‘polpette’

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Here is a tasty, original vegetarian option for a lovely meal. The mint and lemon in this recipe transform the mix of lentils and courgettes into a perfectly balanced combination. You can even prepare the mix the day before serving. It doesn’t get much easier and tastier than that!

Serves 4/6

  • 400 gr tin puy lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 275 gr courgettes
  • 100 gr wholemeal or breadcrumbs
  • 125 gr ricotta cheese
  • 1 garlic clove
  • zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
  • 40 gr pecorino cheese
  • 1 red chilli
  • 2 parseley springs
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint

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Pulse the lentils in a food processor until you have a coarse mix where some lentils are still visible.

Remove the lentils and place in a bowl. Grate the courgettes and combine in a food processor lemon zest, garlic, red chilli and parseley, and whizz until smooth.

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Pour the mixture into the lentils and add the ricotta, pecorino cheese, breadcrumbs or wholemeal. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well, then leave to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile heat the oven to 220°C.

Now create the polpette by forming small balls with your hands (it helps if they are wet, so they won’t stick to the mix). Lightly press them to give them more of a flat shape rather then round, so they will cook better. Put on a baking tray covered with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Bake them in the oven for 20 minutes or until they have a golden, crispy crust.

Serve hot, ideally with a vegetable side or some wild rice, or alternatively as a great topping for a hearty salad. They are also delicious served at room temperature.

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Posted in Recipes, Main dishes, Vegetarian
Aug 17 2014

Zucchine con menta e sesamo

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In questa stagione le zucchine sono al loro meglio; la ricetta che vi proponiamo ne esalta particolarmente la freschezza e il sapore.

Ingredienti per 6 persone

  • 1 kg abbondante zucchine romane
  • 2 cipolline fresche
  • 2 cucchiai olio evo
  • 1 cucchiaio colmo di semi di sesamo
  • 1 mazzetto menta fresca

Sbucciate le cipolline, affettatele e mettetele in una larga padella con l’olio e mezzo bicchiere di acqua, lasciandole stufare a fuoco dolce.

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Spuntate le zucchine delle estremità, tagliatele a bastoncini e unitele alle cipolle. Cuocete a fuoco dolce, coperte, per 5-6 minuti, poi aprite la padella e terminate la cottura, badando che le zucchine restino al dente.

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In un padellino a secco tostate i semi di sesamo finché inizieranno a saltare; spargeteli sulle zucchine, salate, pepate e unite anche la menta sminuzzata con le mani appena le zucchine non saranno più caldissime.

 

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Posted in Sides, Recipes, Light recipes
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