Green salad with fruit

Salads are the easiest side dishes. You can practically toss into your salad whatever you like. No cooking, no hassle. This is one of the more appropriate for autum since it has pomegranate and mandarin in it.

Prep time  10 min
  • 1 bag of mixed salad greens
  • 2-3 mandarins
  • the seeds of a half a pomegranate
  • a handful of walnuts, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • salt

1. Add to the salad mix the peeled mandarin slices, the pomegranate seeds and the healthy nuts and seeds.

2. Prepare the dressing for the salad by mixing 3-4 tbls of oil and 2-3 tbls of vinegar and adding some salt and a dash of black pepper if it is to your liking. Toss the salad gently with the dressing. I always use this dressing for my salads. Nowadays I prefer the balsamic vinegar but I don’t mind a good red wine vinegar.


Pork rib stew with carrots and potatoes

I love stews. They are usually easy to make and you have a one-pot dish at the end so less dishes to clean after the preparation. The only down size with the stews is the long cooking time, but not with this succulent pork rib stew.

Prep time 30 min      Cook time 1 hr – 1hr 30 min
  • 1,2kg pork ribs
  • 1 dl or 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion or 2 small
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2dl or 1/2 cup white wine
  • 5 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2-3cm slices
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
  • 0,5l chicken or beef stock (or water)
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dried basil. oregano, thyme, rosemary

1. Toss the ribs in flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

2. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Place half of the ribs in an even layer in the Dutch oven. Do not overcrowd. Brown for two to three minutes. Turn each piece and brown for another two to three minutes. Transfer browned pork to a plate. Repeat with remaining pork.

3. Add the chopped onion and garlic to Dutch oven and sauté the onion about 5 minutes until it is translucent . Add wine and stir to deglaze the pan, scraping the bottom of the pot to remove browned bits.

4. Add carrots, potatoes, chicken stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, dried herbs, two teaspoons salt, and one teaspoon pepper to the pan. Bring to a boil, mixing well. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes.

5. Add pork to the stew, cover, and simmer on low for 45-50 minutes until the meat starts falling off the bone. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.

tip: you can use other cuts of pork

tip: depending on the ribs or the cut you use, you may want to trim off some fat but NOT ALL. 😉

FOR A GLUTEN FREE OPTION: use appropriate flour


Artichokes Roman style

I love carciofi alla romana : cleaned, trimmed, seasoned liberally with mint and parsley, and cooked.

A fresh Roman artichoke is a wonderful thing. The first ones to hit the stands – the cimaroli – are big and fat. They are the ones that grow from the main stalk of the artichoke plant, in early spring, pointing straight up. Not only are they incredibly fragrant and large, they are also amazingly tender, and have practically no choke (fine, fuzzy hair like filaments) or tough inner leaves. They are also quite expensive. Fortunately we find artichokes almost all year round in Rome so I don’t have to wait for their best season to enjoy them.

This is not a difficult recipe but it’s a bit time consuming especially the first time, but so worth your while.

Prep time 30 min     Cook time 30 min
  • 4 artichokes
  • a bunch of parsley
  • a bunch of mint (mentuccia)
  • 4-5 garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 lemon
  • extra vergin olive oil

1. Fill a big bowl with cold water and squeeze half a lemon in.  Keep the other half handy. Artichokes oxidize quickly, so you have to rub all cut surfaces with a lemon to prevent this. And if you don’t use gloves, you can rub your hands with lemon afterwards.

2. Take a bunch of parsley and a bunch of mint and 4-5 cloves of garlic. Chop finely and add 1/2 tsp of salt and about a 1/4 tsp of freshly ground pepper. (not exact measures)

3. Break off the tough, outer leaves of the artichoke, until you get down to the tender inner leaves. They are usually yellow on the bottom third, and pale violet at the top. When you break off the leaves, do your best to leave on as much of the root of the leaf as possible.

4. Once you have taken off the tough outer leaves, use a small knife and gently trim away the bright green parts from the stem. Turn the artichoke on its side, and cut off the top third (the pointy end of the artichoke). Make sure your knife is really sharp. Immediately rub the cut part with lemon, and immerse it in acidulated water. You can also halve the artichoke and remove the choke like I have done in the photo.

5. Lift an artichoke out of the water and  hold it with one hand, and carefully loosen the leaves, being careful not to break any off. Take a bit of the herb mixture and force it in between the leaves, and into the center of the artichoke. Keep doing this, until the artichoke is well seasoned. You want to use about 2 teaspoons of mixture per artichoke. Repeat for all the artichokes.

6. Choose a pot where the artichokes will fit very snugly, and place them, one against the other, with the tops (where the pointy end was) down or cut the artichokes in halves like I did and cook them side by side. If the stalks are big and thick, you can use those trimmed of the tough outer part to keep the artichokes from tipping over. In any case don’t throw the stalks away but use them. They are yummy too. Otherwise, you can use pieces of potato. Pour in about 2-3cm (an inch) of water but be careful not to pour the water directly onto the artichokes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle abundantly with olive oil. Place the lid on the pot and bring to a low simmer. Cook until done about 20-25 minutes. Keep checking to make sure the water hasn’t boiled away.

7. Let cool. Best served at room temperature.


Homemade pesto

I make pesto every August from the basil from my “plantation” in my backyard.


You should actually use a marble mortar and a wooden pestle but I admit that I use a hand blender.

  • 150g basil
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 60 g grated parmesan
  • 30 g grated pecorino
  • a pinch of coarse salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 100 g extra virgin olive oil

Crush garlic, salt and basil leaves and “hack” until a green juice starts running – this with the mortar. With the blender I add the ingredients in the same order but don’t wait for the juice to run. Add the pine nuts and the cheese and at the end pour the oil slowly. Taste and adjust salt.

I like mine creamy and not too garlicky.

You can put the pesto in a glass jar and keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Wait until the pesto has settled and then add some oil if needed. The pesto has to be covered with oil.

Another method is to put the pesto in small plastic cups or in the ice cube tray and  freeze it which is what I do nowadays.  EDITED it is best not to put the cheese if freezing the pesto but to add it when you use the pesto.


Creamy cauliflower soup

These kind of creamy  soups or veloutés can be used as a light main course or as an appetizer.

Prep time 10 min     Cook time 30 min
  • 1 cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into rounds
  • 500ml water
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • olive oil
  • salt, pepper
  • curry powder (optional)
  • chili pepper or peperoncino oil
  • loose leaf parsley
  • grilled bread cubes (or croutons)

1. Add salt to the water and let it boil.

2. Put some oil in a large pan or pot and add the onion, garlic,  carrots and cauliflower and let simmer for a few minutes.

3. Add slowly the boiling water until the veggies are covered.

4. Add salt, pepper and curry powder and let cook covered for 20-25 minutes. Stir occasionally.

5. Take off the heat and blend with a stick blender directly in the pot.

6. Pour the creamy soup into your bowl and garnish with chopped parsley , olive oil or peperoncino oil and grilled bread cubes.

FOR A GLUTEN FREE ALTERNATIVE: leave out the bread or use appropriate bread


Tuscan bean and veggie soup

Soups are my go to in these gloomy autumn days. Today at the market I found black kale also called Nero Toscana and decided to pair it with beans for a hearty soup.

Prep time 20 min     Cook time 1h (less if using canned beans)
  • 300g beans cooked in their liquid (or canned beans)
  • a bunch of black  kale, stemmed and chopped
  • a small red cabbage, cut into medium size stripes
  • 2-3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • peperoncino
  • 3-4 tomatoes, diced
  • extra vergine olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 125g of pancetta or bacon
  • grated Pecorino cheese
  • slices of stale bread

1. Fry the onion until translucent about 5-7 minutes, add the pancetta cut into cubes and some peperoncino. Start with a few seeds and a little bit of skin. You can add more later if needed.

2. Add the carrots and potatoes, cabbage and kale and  finally the tomatoes.

3. Cover the veggies with the liquid of the beans, check the salt and let simmer for about 25 minutes at low heat. If using canned beans, cover the veggies with water.

4. Blend half of the beans and add them to the soup. Continue to simmer for 25 minutes.

5. Add the remaining beans.

6. Put slices or cubes of stale (or grilled ) bread in the soup bowl and start ladling soup on top of them. Add some Pecorino cheese and let rest for a few minutes.


FOR THE GLUTEN FREE ALTERNATIVE leave out the bread or use appropriate  bread