Fusilli pasta with red cabbage and pancetta

I love the colour, texture and taste of this pasta and if you omit the pancetta it is even healthier and a vegetarian dish. A win-win.

prep time 10 min     cook time 25 min
ingredients for 4
  • 350 g pasta of your choice (I’ve made it with penne, fusilli, fettuccine)
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • a small red cabbage or half of a medium one
  • 120-150 g pancetta
  • a small can (200 g) of crushed tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • peperoncino (optional)
  • a few basil leaves
  • grated Pecorino cheese

1. In a large, deep skillet, heat the olive oil. Add the sliced onion and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally for about 3-5 min. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. If using peperoncino, add it with the garlic.

2. Add the sliced red cabbage, the crushed tomatoes, and salt and cook, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is tender, about 20 minutes. Add the basil leaves.

2. Cook in a small pan the pancetta cut into cubes or strips and add to the sauce. You can also cook it directly in the large skillet adding it with the cabbage. EDIT: you get the best flavour cooking it in cubes or strips until slightly crispy and adding it on top of your pasta plate.

this is for 8 with a little too much tomatoes

3. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. I usually cook the pasta 1-2 min less than what is indicated on the packet. I like my pasta al dente. Drain and save a  glass of the cooking water.

4. Pour the pasta into the sauce and toss well. Add some pasta water if needed.

5. Add some grated Pecorino cheese onto your plate.

tip: be careful with salt since the pancetta and Pecorino cheese are both salty.


Stir fried yellow bell peppers

Peperoni alla Nonna is one of the all time favourites in our home. The recipe is from my late mother-in-law hence the name Grandma’s peppers. Super easy to make and can be used as an appetizer or a side dish.

prep time 10 min     cook time 20 min
ingredients for 4
  • 3-4 yellow bell peppers
  • 4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • handful of Gaeta olives
  • salt
  • 4-5 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1. Cut peppers into strips and pat them dry.

2. In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Start frying your peppers in batches. Do not crowd the skillet. You may find a splash guard useful at this time.

3. After 4-5 minutes on high heat, turn the heat to medium and turn the strips. Season with salt. The peppers need to start turning brown.

4. Keep cooking until peppers are soft, about 8-10 minutes.

5. Move the first batch onto a plate and repeat with the others.

6. When done, put all the peppers in the skillet once more and add the olives, pitted if you want. Now add the “secret” ingredient which is the grated Parmesan. Stir to coat and turn off the heat after 1-2 min.

7. Serve warm or cold.


Salmon casserole

When you crave for comfort food, the Finnish salmon casserole is what you need to make. I confess that I had forgotten all about it for the longest time but now that I’ve re-discovered it, it will be frequently on our table. This is too good to count calories!

Prep time 35 min     Cook time  1h 15 min

  • 1 big fillet of fresh salmon (600-700 gr)
  • 2 kg of potatoes
  • 3 yellow onions
  • 1-2  bunches of fresh dill
  • 1 dl of fish stock
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 dl milk
  • 2 dl heavy cream
  • breadcrumbs
  • butter
  • extra vergin olive oil

1. Butter a big oven pan and cut the salmon fillet in 2 cm (1 inch) slices.

2. Peel and slice the potatoes. Good slices, not paper thin. Put the slices in cold water until you start layering the casserole.

3. Slice the onions and sautée them in olive oil. At the end add the fish stock and let the sauce brew .

4. Layer first 1/3 of the potato slices in the pan, add salt and pepper. Add half of the onions and cut a good handful of fresh dill on top.

5. Make one whole layer of salmon, add salt and pepper. Place another handful of dill on top. Add a layer of potatoes, the rest of the onions, salt and pepper. One more layer of potatoes + a pinch of salt and pepper.

6. Whisk the eggs, milk and heavy cream together adding salt and pepper. It seems like a lot of salt but the potatoes absorb lots of it.

7. Pour the cream in the pan, add a few dabs of butter and sprinkle bread crumbs on top.

8. Place in a preheated oven at 200°C  for 1 hour and 15 minutes until the casserole is golden brown and the potatoes are properly done. Not al dente.

9. Don’t count the calories! This is too good!


Lentil soup with kale

When I went to the farmer’s market this morning, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I wanted to make for lunch. I opted for Tuscan kale also called Lacinato kale or black kale or Nero Toscana and decided to make a soup.

To trim the kale take each leaf of kale and run a sharp knife down both sides of rib, starting at fat end and sliding the knife down. Repeat for the entire bunch and discard ribs. Or do as I do and grab the stem with one hand and run your index finger and thumb of the other hand along the rib and pull from the fat end to the top tearing the leaves. Quicker.

prep time 10 min     cook time 45-50 min
ingredients for 6
  • 350g lentils
  • 2 l of water or vegetable broth
  • 1 bunch of Tuscan kale
  • 1 celery stick, cut into rounds
  • 1 carrot, cut into rounds
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, minced
  • mix of aromatic herbs minced: oregano, marjoram, loose leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons extra vergin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • slices of crusty bread

1. Destem and chop the kale and rinse the lentils.

2. Heat the oil in a large pot. Add in the onion, garlic and herbs and cook for 3-5 minutes until translucent.

3. Add in the celery and carrot and cook for 2 more minutes.

4. Stir in the lentils and add salt and pepper.

5. Top with vegetable broth and tomato paste.

6. Lower heat and let simmer for about 30 minutes. The cooking time depends on the variety of lentils you use.

7. Stir in kale and cook for 5-8 minutes until kale has wilted.

8. Serve warm with bread.

Tip: For your carbs instead of bread you can use soup pasta like ditalini or conchigliette.

Tip: A little bit of peperoncino will give this soup some kick 🙂

FOR GLUTEN FREE ALTERNATIVE use appropriate bread or pasta


Fusilli pasta with ricotta and tomatoes

Here’s another quick and easy pasta recipe. I make this with fusilli or farfalle or any kind of short pasta. It never seizes to amaze me how delicious meal you’ll get with just a few good ingredients.

prep time 5 min     cook time 10-12 min
ingredients for 4
  • 350g pasta
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 300 g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 250 g ricotta
  • salt
  • basil
  • grated Parmesan

1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Save a glass of the pasta water.

2. Meanwhile warm the oil in a medium size skillet over medium-high heat with the garlic cloves. Add the tomatoes, stir to coat and sprinkle with  1/2 teaspoon of salt. Let cook for about 5 minutes. Flatten the tomatoes carefully with a spatula.

3. Add the ricotta and stir to coat. Let cook for 1 minute. Add a few basil leaves.

4. Drain the pasta 1 minute before it’s cooked al dente and pour it in the skillet, stir to coat and add a little bit of the pasta water that you have previously saved and finish cooking. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese.



The traditional Greek green beans recipe (Fasolakia giaxni) is hearty, healthy and bursting with fresh and vibrant colors and flavors. You can find many variations of this traditional Greek dish, with the most popular being the classic version with green beans only and others with broad beans with potatoes or sweet potatoes and sometimes with zucchini. Feel free to experiment by adding different types of vegetables.

The traditional fasolakia recipe falls under the category of Greek dishes called “Ladera”, meaning Greek dishes prepared only with olive oil, with no addition of other fat. So make sure to use some good quality extra virgin olive oil, which will give its own, unique taste to this dish! Enjoy this delicious fasolakia as a hearty vegetarian meal or as a delicious side dish. 
prep time 10 min     cook time 40 min
ingredients for 4
  • 50-70 ml (1/4 cup) extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (400ml) crushed tomatoes
  • 500 g green beans or Romano pole beans or flat beans
  • 1 carrot, cut into rounds
  • 500g potatoes or sweet potatoes, in chunks
  • 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 4-5 tablespoons fresh mint, dill, oregano finely chopped
  • 0,5 l water
  • salt and pepper to season
  • 200 g feta

1. Trim, wash and drain the beans.

2. Heat oil in a large sauce pan over medium-high heat, add onion and garlic and cook till soft, about 2-3 min. Add the tomatoes and cook for another 5 min. The traditional recipe for Greek green beans calls for fresh ripe tomatoes, but you can substitute them with canned chopped tomatoes.

3. Add the potatoes and stir thoroughly to combine. Add some salt and pepper. Add the beans ON TOP of the potatoes but do not stir.

4. Add herbs and enough water to just cover the beans. Allow to cook for 15 min, stir all the ingredients, season with more salt and pepper and lower the heat to a low setting. Cook for further 30 min (45 min total) till the beans are tender.

5. Serve it with a block of feta cheese and good crusty bread. It’s mandatory to use the bread to wipe up all that beautiful sauce.


Spicy pork and sausage stew with chickpeas

This is one of those dishes that leaves you begging for more. That’s what happened with my son and godson who both told me beforehand that they do not eat chickpeas. Well, they did and helped themselves to another portion and maybe even to a third one.

prep time 20 min     cook time 3 hrs

ingredients for 8-10
  • 1.2 kg pork neck (or shoulder) cut into 3-4cm chunks
  • 400 g Italian sausage, cut into chunks
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 onions, quartered
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 6-8  garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can (400g) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 l water (2-3 cans)
  • peperoncino
  • 2 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • salt
  • 2 (400g) cans chickpeas
  • 1 bunch loose leaf parsley, chopped

1. Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or a large pot over medium-high heat and brown the pieces of pork shoulder and the sausages in batches. If there is a fatty side, put that side down on the pan to help render out the fat. Sprinkle some salt over the pork while it cooks. Once cooked, set the pieces aside.

2. Sauté onions and carrots in the pan making sure to scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat until the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and peperoncino seeds and skin and cook for another minute. The quantity of peperoncino is up to you, start with a few seeds and add more to your taste.  If you prefer, you can use hot Italian sausage and leave out the peperoncino.

3. Add the pork, sausage, crushed tomatoes and water, then stir to combine. Stir in the various paprikas. Add salt to taste. Bring to a simmer and cook at low for at least 2 hrs or until the pork is melt-in-your-mouth tender.

4. Add the chickpeas and parsley, stir well and adjust the salt. Cook for 5 more minutes. Excellent served with crusty bread and red wine. This dish also freezes well.