Friday, 27 June 2014

Cold pasta salad (farfalle) with tuna and lemon

Summer atmosphere with this nice cold pasta! It is a light meal as well!

It must be prepared in advance and keeps well for a day or two in the fridge. The fantastic light you see in some of the pictures is totally natural. Yesterday's sunset at its best in my kitchen.

If the garlic is too strong for your taste, remove the inner sprout, it will be more digestible.

In this simple recipe the quality of each ingredient is the key to archive good results. Always prefer pasta made of durum wheat semolina, so your pasta will keep well, and a first quality extra virgin olive oil.

Ingredients for 4

250 gr./ 0.6 lb Farfalle

200 gr. /0.4 lb canned tuna – net weight drained from the oil
4 carrots

1 garlic clove, grated (or finely chopped)

2 table spoons basil+ parsley,

Juice of 1 lemon

Grated Zest of 1 organic lemon

½ lemon to decorate

7 table spoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt& pepper

How to:

    1)      Clean the carrots, wash them well, dry them and grate them in a large bowl or an air tight container.


    2)      Add the tuna, the lemon juice, the grated lemon zest, the chopped garlic and freshly ground pepper. Add a little bit of salt and stir well. Cover with a cling film and let it marinate for at least 1 hr. in the fridge.

    3)      Boil the pasta in abundant, rolling salted boiling water (10 gr./liter) with 2 table spoons olive oil. Stir gently now and then.  Drain the pasta well “al dente” (follow the instruction on packaging - do not overcook it) in a colander and spread it on a dish cloth to cool down and dry.

    4)      Add the pasta in the bowl, mix it with two wooden spoons to the marinade and the freshly chopped herbs, add some more oil if necessary and refrigerate it until meal time. Decorate with thin slices of lemon before serving.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Trofie (pasta) with basil pesto

My dear friend Gabriella who lives near Genoa, gave me some fresh pesto.
I could not resist to use it immediately and make a classic Italian pasta with it.
You can use store bought pesto as well... in this case, add some more taste by processing about 10 leaves fresh basil (wash and dry them!!) with 2 spoons of extra virgin olive oil to lighten up the flavour.

There are two special pasta types you can dress with this fantastic cream: trenette (sort of flat spaghetti) and trofie, but it is more and more common to see also different pastas. (use short pasta with the vegetables as described hereunder and only pesto for trenette).

Zucchini make a marvellous match as well (use 2 of them instead of green beans).

This pasta is very nice also served cold, just add some more extra virgin olive oil and mix well.
Follow me it is very easy!

Ingredients -

 for 4 people

2 medium potatoes, 
250 grs. green beans or two zucchinis 
220 gr./ 1/2 pound of trofie. 

To dress: 
4 table spoons pesto and about 2 table spoons of the cooking water.

1) Wash and clean the green beans and cut them into small pieces.

2) Wash and peel the potatoes and cut them into small cubes.

3) If you are going to cook them immediately, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and pour the vegetable to boil for 7-10 minutes.
If not, soak the vegetable into ice cold water. (Drain them before cooking).

4) Pour the pasta in the pan with  the vegetables and cook until "al dente" (follow the instructions on the packaging, normally it takes 7-10 minutes)

5) Drain in a colander, preserving a little bit of hot water, which you will use, spoon by spoon, to dilute your pesto.

6) Put the cooked pasta and the vegetables in a container and sprinkle the diluted pesto on it. Stir well without breaking the pasta.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Fresh tuna with mint pesto

My family simply goes crazy for this recipe and I really love it too!.
It is a sophisticated dish, but at the same time it is fresh, delicious and very fast to prepare...

Please remember that if the fish is not completely cooked- just like in this case -, you should freeze it for at least 48 hrs to kill any parasites, and let the fish defrost slowly in the fridge. (When you cook it very well there is no need because heat kills everything...)

Ingredients for 4

600 gr / 1 lb 1/2 fresh tuna, cut in 1 inch slices

For the mint pesto
200 ml  Extra virgin olive oil 
about 20 fresh mint leaves - washed and dried with a cloth
25 + 25 grs/ 2+2 ounces pine nuts (2 to garnish)
For the marinade
1/2 a cup Extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 a lemon
chives (finely chopped)
1 clove garlic (sliced)
salt and pepper

1) In a deep, flat container pour the oil, the sliced garlic, salt, pepper, chives and the lemon juice.
Put the tuna in the marinade and let it get the flavours for max 1/2 hour, turning it now and then. Refrigerate it.
Do not keep the fish any longer because the lemon could "cook" the tuna (or add the lemon juice at the very last minute).

2) Put half of the pine nuts in a pan and let them brown few seconds, in order to make them crunchier.

3) In the meanwhile, prepare the mint pesto; you can do it in your mixer, putting the mint and the pine-nuts together with little oil, salt and pepper and after a short processing adding all the oil. 
You should obtain a thick cream. Do not over process it, when eating you should taste the crunchiness of the pine-nuts

4) Warm up your pan, drain the tuna, and cook it uncovered for about 3 minutes on each side. The insider part of the slice must remain dark red. 

5) Put the tuna on a cutting board and cut pieces about 1/2 inch.

6) Put the tuna pieces on a serving plate and spread the pesto on them.

Garnish with the toasted pine nuts.


Saturday, 7 June 2014

Zucchini frittata

Up to 20 years ago, frittata was very common in my region: a cheap and easy to prepare lunch or dinner.
If you serve it with a green salad it is a very low calories meal as well.(2 eggs each only!!!!).
The best one at making frittata in my family is my father: his version of frittata with onions is famous among my friends.

In this recipe I put some pancetta cubes as well, the smaller, the better, because I wanted to give a little more taste to it.

If you prefer the vegetarian version avoid the pancetta and use fresh mint leaves instead of parsley.

Ingredients for each person

2 large eggs
1 table spoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano
2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil/some butter to grease the pan
1/2 tablespoon chopped parsley
salt and pepper
25 grs / 1ouce pancetta (in small cubes)

How to:

1) In a non-stick pan, pour 2 tablespoons of oil, the cubed pancetta and let it warm up. Add the sliced zucchini and let them cook until the zucchini are nicely soft and slightly browned . Season with a little bit of salt and pepper. Take off fire.

2) In a bowl mix the eggs with the chopped parsley and the parmesan cheese. Beat well.  

3) Pour  the cooked zucchini in the mix, add another pinch of salt, pepper and the eggs, already well beaten. Stir very quickly for a second. 
Add some more oil or butter in the pan, and over a medium heat, pour the mix in the pan.
Once the omelette starts to clot, shake lightly the pan in order to detach it from the pan.

Close with a lid and let it cook  in 1-2 minutes until it is no longer liquid.

Then, turn the omelette tossing it or turning it upside sliding it on the lid or onto a large plate. Add the remaining oil, or butter, in the pan and brown the other side.


If you are eating it warm, just divide it into large pieces, but as you can eat it as a cold starter, put the frittata on a piece of kitchen paper to drain all the oil. Press slightly.

When completely cold, cut it into small square piece and serve with a glass of white wine.