This recipe came about on a lazy sunday night when there was nothing in the fridge and I couldn’t be asked going out shopping. With the help of a bit of garlic, chilli and a bit of fresh herbs, you can turn a last minute improvisation into something quite delicious — and worth preparing even if the fridge is full!
2 cloves garlic
1/2 bunch fresh basil, leaves picked
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp dried red chili flakes
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 cup parmesan cheese grated
Salt & freshly ground pepper
2 egg yolks (optional)
1. For the pasta, use the ratio of 1 litre of water to 100g of pasta and 10g of salt, and cook as per packet instructions.
2. The traditional way of making pesto is with a mortar and pestle. Start by adding basil, garlic, salt and a pinch of garlic flakes to the mortar and bruising them to a paste. Whisk in the oil until you have the desired consistency. If in a hurry or if you’re making large quantities, you can also use a blender or food processor.
3. Once the pasta is cooked, start heating up the pesto in olive oil for 20 seconds or so. Drain the pasta, add to the frying pan with 1 tbsp of the cooking water. Toss well and cook for a few minutes. Add the lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
4. Add a little olive oil, sprinkle chili flakes and freshly grated parmesan. Place an egg yolk on top if you would like a bit of extra richness.
If you fancy something a bit more substantial, add prawns to the pan before the cooked pasta.
This basic gnocchi recipe is really easy to follow and will give you the perfect, delicate, super soft and heavenly gnocchi which can be dressed in many different ways! A simple tomato sauce and grated cheese is a very delicious and authentic way to serve it, but you may prefer tossing it with other classic flavour combinations, such butter & sage, parm ham & ricotta, garlic & wild mushrooms, or peas & mint.
Ingredients: serves 4
6-8 large potatoes
2 egg yolks
3/4 cup plain flour
1 pinch nutmeg, grated
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Classic Tomato Sauce
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped or 1 can diced tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 handful Basil, thinly sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Parmesan, freshly grated
1. Boil potatoes in salted water for about 25 minutes or until tender, drain and let is cool down for 10 minutes or so. Peel and mash the flesh while still warm and place into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the egg yolks and the flour, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg, and gradually add a little more flour if the mixture is still too wet and sticky to form a ball.
2. Divide the mixture in 4-6 portions, roll each piece into a sausage shape on a floured surface and cut each into thick slices.
3. To shape the gnocchi, place it against the back of a fork, press in and down the length of the fork. Repeat with the remaining gnocchi, dust with a bit of flour and cover with a wet cloth for up to a couple of hours or until ready to cook.
4. To prepare the sauce, pre-heat a splash of oil in a frying pan, add the garlic, onion and season with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes and cook gently for 5 minutes and stir in the chopped basil.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees. Boil the gnocchi in small batches in salted water for 2-3 minutes, scoop out with a slotted spoon as they start floating to the surface and continue until all remaining gnocchi have been cooked. Place the cooked gnocchi in the sauce and place in a baking tray. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
While a little fiddly, gnocchi can be really rewarding to make fresh as the soft little pillows will taste amazing, honestly nothing like the supermarket bought version! One last little tip, be careful not to add too much flour though as the more flour the firmer the gnocchi will be. Adding some salt to the water will prevent the gnocchi from sticking and disintegrating while cooking. When the water starts boiling, reduce the heat to moderate. Try and add small batches of gnocchi at a time to ensure the temperature remains stable. If you wish to freeze the gnocchi, do so before they’ve been cooked and start by laying them on a tray to prevent them from sticking together. Once frozen, you can stick them in a freezing bag to store.
There is nothing cooler and fresher than a cucumber salad. The classic combination of cucumber, mint and feta cheese can make this dish pretty special too!
Ingredients: (serve 4 as a starter)
3 lebanese cucumbers, peeled and thinly sliced
100g fresh feta cheese, crumbed
1/2 small bunch of mint, chopped
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp Zaatar spice (optional)
Freshly ground pepper
1. Place the sliced cucumber neatly on a serving plate and season with pepper and Zaatar spice.
2. Sprinkle on crumbled bits of feta cheese and the mint.
3. In a small bowl, mix the lemon juice and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dizzle the dressing over the salad right before serving.
This dish is the perfect, quick and easy way to add fresh greens at the start of your meal!
This elegant Asian inspired dish will be a hit served as a snack or as a starter. The beautiful contrast between the crispy sweet potato and the sharp and creamy wasabi Mayo will take you by surprise and make you come back for more! Nom, nom, nom!
Ingredients: (2 as a starter)
1 large sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tbsp sesame or walnut oil
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 tbsp sesame seeds
4 tbsp mayonnaise
1 tbsp wasabi
1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice the sweet potato into very thin slices, using a vegetable peeler. Soak in salted water for 20-30 minutes.
2. Prepare the wasabi mayonnaise dip by whisking the mayonnaise in the wasabi cream and season with cracked pepper.
3. Drain and pat dry the sweet potato slices with paper towel and coat with sesame or walnut oil and season with salt & pepper. Transfer and spread seasoned potato slices on an oven tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10 minutes. Using a large spatula, turn, sprinkle with the sesame seeds and bake for another 10 minutes until crisp.
Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of sesame seeds!
The good news is that these little tasty treats are also much healthier than traditional crisps!
It’s also the perfect starter, before a sushi platter!
This classic Dauphinoise Potato gratin is world wide famous and a fabulous accompaniment to roast meats, juicy steaks or stews. Having said that, it’s not to say that its garlicky, creamy and crispy flavours can’t be enjoyed by itself…!
Ingredients: (serves 4 people)
9 medium potatoes, peeled and sliced
2 cups whole milk
5 tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup double cream
1 cup grated gruyère
Freshly ground pepper & sea salt flakes
1. Preheat the oven to 180 ºC. Place the potatoes in a non stick pan, cover with milk and season with salt & pepper. Bring to the boil, before reducing the heat and cook for 10 minutes.
2. Grease a baking tray with butter and spread the crushed butter over the surface. Drain the potatoes, transfer half in the gratin dish, add half the cheese, double cream and season with salt & pepper. Repeat again for the top layer.
3. Place the gratin in the oven and cook for 1 hour or until nicely brown and crispy!
Don’t be afraid of making slightly too much as any leftovers will taste even better when baked for the second time!
Zucchini flowers stuffed with goat cheese are so delicious and easy to prepare, but can also look quite fancy as a gourmet starter! I personally prefer the batter to be super light using just sparkling water and a bit of flour but you can also make a traditional batter by adding an egg in the mix for a crispier result.
Ingredients: (4 people)
8 zucchini flowers
120g fresh goat cheese
80g Ricotta cheese
1/2 bunch of chives, finely chopped
1 handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/2 nutmeg, grated
Freshly ground pepper & salt
100g plain flour
200ml sparkling mineral water, very cold
30ml vegetable oil (for frying)
1. Gently open the zucchini flower, remove the stamen and make sure there are no insects inside.
2. Combine the goat cheese, ricotta, chives, parsley, nutmeg in a mixing bowl and season with salt & pepper. If you don’t have a piping bag, cut the corner from a plastic freezer bag, add the cheese mix to the bag.
3. Squeeze the mixture through the whole into the flowers, set aside and refrigerate for 30 minutes to avoid the mixture to leak straightaway as you start frying.
4. Prepare the batter by whisking the cold sparkling water in the flour. Don’t worry if it’s not perfectly smooth when combined.
5. Pre-heat the vegetable oil in a large non stick frying pan. Dip the flowers in the batter and fry on high heat for 30- 60 seconds on each side until golden in color. Remove with the wire strainer, let drain, transfer to a plate lined with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.
I like serve to it on a bed of green leaf salad topped with caramelised figs! It also works really well with a few pieces of crispy shredded Parma ham on top!
This is such a simple and classic dish, perfect as an Italian appetiser, brunch or as a snack. The trick is to rub the hot bread with a raw clove of garlic and then brush it with olive oil for an amazing flavour…It’s bold, fresh and delicious!
Ingredients (serves 4 people as a starter)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small bunch of basil, chopped
300g vine ripened tomatoes, diced
white wine vinegar
Sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper
garlic cloves, peeled & cut in half
4 thick slices round rustic bread, cut in half
1. Preheat grill on high heat. Mix chopped tomatoes, onion and basil into a bowl and season with salt flakes, freshly ground pepper, olive oil and white wine vinegar. Toss well.
2. Toast both sides of bread slices. Rub each slice with a garlic clove while hot and brush it with a bit of olive oil.
3. Spoon tomatoes onto bread and serve immediately!
The secret for this dish to be a hit is to use the freshest ingredients you can find and keep it simple and bold. The only extra add on would be to shred a few pieces of creamy buffalo mozzarella and place it on top! You can also swap the white wine vinegar for a good quality balsamic vinegar.
Risotto is a really quick and versatile dish, which can make either a beautiful hearty main course, or an indulgent side to a Mediterranean meat/fish. In this version, the roasted mushrooms garnish adds a delicate nutty touch to the dish and elevates it to… something else!
Ingredients (serves 4 as a main)
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
400g risotto rice
1 cup white wine
6 cups hot chicken stock
75g butter, diced
1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
300g wild mushrooms (eg. shiitake & oyster), cleaned and sliced
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Pre-heat oil and a knob of butter on low/medium heat in a large non stick heavy bottom pan, add the onion, half the garlic and slowly cook on low heat for 10-15 minutes until nice and soft. In a separate pan, start warming up the chicken stock on medium heat.
2. Turn up the heat and add the rice to the onion mixture and fry until the grains look translucent. Stir in the wine and cook until fully absorbed into the rice. Season with salt & pepper.
3. Start adding the warm stock to the mixture, one ladleful at a time. Carry on adding more as it cooks into the rice, until soft. It should take around 20 minutes.
4. In the meantime, let’s get started on the mushrooms. Pre-heat the oven on medium heat and heat up a bit of oil in a frying pan. Fry the mushrooms with the rest of the garlic, salt and pepper for 3 minutes or until it starts colouring. Transfer to the oven and roast for 6-10 minutes. Chop about half of the amount and mix it into the risotto.
5. Take the risotto off the heat and stir in the rest of the butter (should be around 70g) and chopped parsley. Mix well. Stir in the chopped mushrooms and lemon juice. Finally, add the Parmesan and season to taste. If it looks a bit too dry, add a bit more stock at that stage to make it really creamy.
6. Serve with a garnish of the remaining roasted mushrooms.
There are countless variants of risotto, some with meat (chicken, bacon), some with seafood (mussels, prawns) and some with vegetables (Asparagus, pumpkin)… for which the base recipe can still be used, but just bring in the extra ingredients (cooked & seasoned) at stage 4.
Homemade ice cream is a great treat to make because it can last in the freezer for a while, can be enjoyed on it’s own or can be the final touch of any other dessert! This recipe is a quick and easy way to make icecream from scratch, without using an ice cream maker!
1 cup white sugar
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups canned coconut milk
1 bounty bar, chopped finely
50g shredded coconut
1 tsp. vanilla flavouring
chocolate shavings to serve (optional)
1. Beat the eggs and whisk in the sugar until light and fluffy.
2. Pour the mixture into a bain marie bowl and cook over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, stirring continuously until thickened and creamy. Place in the refrigerator to cool.
3. Use an electric blender to whisk the cream until very thick. Transfer into a large mixing bowl and fold in coconut milk and shredded coconut. Once combined, stir in the egg/sugar mixture, vanilla flavour and bounty bar bits.
4. Place in the freezer and allow to set for at least 8-10 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and chocolate shavings. To make the chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler, hold the bar of chocolate in one hand and scrape the peeler across the edge of the chocolate block. You can also serve it with our Nibblish ultimate brownie!
4. Place in the freezer and allow to set for at least 8-10 hours. Serve with a sprinkle of shredded coconut and chocolate shavings.
To make the chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler, hold the bar of chocolate in one hand and scrape the peeler across the edge of the chocolate block. You can also serve it with our Nibblish ultimate brownie!
Short of ideas for a super easy, quick and healthy dinner? Give a try to this homemade pumkin soup. It takes under 30 minutes to prepare, it’s idiot proof and everybody will love it!
Ingredients (serves 2):
1/2 butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1/2 Litre vegetable stock
1/3 cup milk
1 small bunch coriander, finely chopped
1 small red chili, finely sliced
freshly ground salt & pepper
1/4 cup cream to serve
1. Place pumpkin, onion, garlic & stock in a large saucepan on high heat, bring to boil and then reduce heat and let it simmer for 20 mins.
2. Blend the mixture, stir in the butter, milk, a handful of coriander and season with salt and pepper. Bring back to boil.
3. Serve with a touch of fresh cream, fresh coriander and red chili!
You can also enhance the Asian influence a smidge by replacing the fresh cream with coconut milk and adding a touch of fishsauce!
Click here for a Valentine’s version of this dish!