Oxtail stew

This recipe is slightly modified from Jamie Oliver‘s fabulous oxtail stew. It is one of the best stews I’ve eaten or cooked. Oxtail is a gelatin-rich meat, which is usually slow-cooked as a stew or braised. While it used to be only the tail of an ox, nowadays it can also refer to the tails of other cattle.



  • 1,5kg oxtail, chopped into 4cm chunks
  • extravirgin olive oil
  • 1 leek
  • 1-2 celery stalk
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 2 onions
  • fresh thyme and rosemary
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 2 Tbls of plain flour
  • a glass of good red wine
  • 2 cans of plum tomatoes
  • 0,5 liter of beef stock or water
  1. Preheat oven to 220C. Place a large oven tray in the oven to preheat.
  2. Carefully remove the hot tray and add the oxtail. Season and drizzle the oil over the meat, toss to coat and place in the hot oven for 20 min, or until golden and caramelised.
  3. Meanwhile trim and halve the leek and celery lengthwise, then chop into 2cm chunks. Peel and chop the carrots and onions and place the veggies into a large ovenproof casserole over a medium low heat with 1 Tbls of oil.
  4. Pick, roughly chop and add thyme, rosemary and bay leaves to the pot and cook for 20 min, stirring frequently.
  5. Meanwhile remove the oxtail from the oven and set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 170C.
  6. Add the cloves and flour stirring well to combine, then pour the tomatoes and wine. Add the oxtail and any roasting juices, cover with beef stock or cold water and stir well.
  7. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil, put the lid on and place in the oven for around 5 hrs or until the meat falls off the bone, stirring every hour or so and adding some water if needed.

8. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Using rubber gloves, strip the meat from the bones and return to the pan discarding the bones.

9. Enjoy with creamy mashed potatoes or pappardelle pasta.


Zucchini and meatballs in tomato sauce

I love all stuffed veggies and I have to say that these ground beef filled zucchini in tomato sauce are one of my favourites. Buy some more ground beef and make meatballs to cook in the same tomato sauce. Delicious.

prep time 20 min

cook time 30-40 min

ingredients for 4-5

  • 350g ground beef
  • 4 medium to large zucchini
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 egg
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 25g grated Parmigiano
  • handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
  • flour to coat the meatballs
  • 400g tomato sauce
  • 1/2 onion
  • extra virgin olive oil

  1. Start by washing and tapping dry the zucchini. Cut off the edges and then cut them in half or into 3 pieces.
  2. Use a zucchini corer or an all-purpose corer to gently hollow out a tunnel through the zucchini. Put the zucchini flesh aside.
  3. Mince the zucchini flesh and put it into a bowl. Add the ground beef, breadcrumbs, parsley, grated Parmigiano, one egg, salt and pepper. Use your hands to combine everything thoroughly.
  4. With your fingers or a small spoon, fill the zucchini cavities with the stuffing, taking care not to pack them too tightly. Use the leftover stuffing to make meatballs.
  5. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add thinly sliced onion and sauté for a few minutes. Add the tomato sauce or a tin of crushed tomatoes, add some salt and let simmer for a few minutes.
  6. Add the stuffed zucchini to the pan, cover and let cook for 15 minutes. In the meantime coat the meatballs with flour.
  7. After 15 minutes, add the meatballs to the pan with the zucchini and let cook for another 15 to 20 minutes on medium low. Serve warm or tepid.

Enjoy your stuffed zucchini and meatballs in tomato sauce.


Stuffed zucchini, bell peppers and eggplants

I love stuffed vegetables either filled with ground beef or ricotta or other vegetables. They are best eaten lightly cooled when the flavours have had time to set.

prep time 15 min     cook time 50 min
ingredients for 4
  • 2 eggplants
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 bell peppers (red or yellow)
  • 500 g ground beef
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 200 g mozzarella (provola is ok too)
  • 4-5 Tbls bread crumbs
  • 3-4 Tbls grated Parmigiano
    1. Preheat oven to 180 C
    2. Wash and pat dry eggplants, zucchinis and peppers. Cut them in halves and empty the eggplants and zucchini of their flesh trying not to poke holes to the skin.

3. Line a baking tray with parchment paper and place the vegetables on the tray. Cut the eggplant and zucchini halves just slightly and sprinkle some salt on all the vegetables.

4. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. In the meantime heat oil in a large pan and sauté the onion. Add the ground beef, season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes. Add the eggplant and zucchini flesh to the pan.

6. Cook for another 10 minutes, then remove from the pan and let cool.

7. Add the mozzarella cut into cubes, 2-3 Tbls of bread crumbs and fill the eggplants, zucchini and peppers sprinkling some more breadcrumbs and grated Parmigiano on top.

8. Cook for abut 50 minutes and let them cool on the tray.

9. Serve with crusty bread and a nice glass of wine.


Stuffed pepper soup

Stuffed pepper soup is a delicious and inexpensive soup. It has a mixture of ground beef, onions, rice, and bell peppers. It’s simmered to perfection in a tomato based broth. It’s like eating a stuffed pepper without all the extra work – easy and delicious.

prep time  15 min     cook time 35 min
ingredients for 6-7
  • 500g lean ground beef
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow peppers
  • 1 large or 2 small red peppers
  • 1 large or 2 small green peppers
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2 cans (400g each) crushed or diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (400g) or bottle tomato sauce
  • 300ml beef or vegetable stock
  • fresh basil, oregano, parsley
  • brown rice or couscous
  • salt and pepper

1. Chop peppers, onion, carrots and garlic.

2. In a large pan or Dutch oven heat 1 tbsp of olive oil and brown the beef on high heat adding a pinch of salt. Transfer to a plate.

3. Add the remaining oil and sauté veggies for 5-6 minutes. Transfer the beef back to the pan.

4. Add in tomatoes + water from rinsing the cans, tomato sauce, stock and season with salt and pepper.

I never ever use cans of tomatoes with added sugar or salt! Read the labels.

5. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Cover and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes. Add the chopped herbs in the end.

6. Ladle in soup plates, add cooked brown rice or couscous and serve. Or omit the rice/couscous and serve the soup with crusty bread.

Tip: You can cook the rice in the pot but if you plan on having it for leftovers the next day or freeze it, don’t add the rice to the pot of soup because it will turn mushy.


Sunday stew

This hearty stew is perfect for Sunday lunch but nobody forbids to make it on any other day of the week. I used bell peppers, zucchini and carrots but mushrooms, root vegetables or even potatoes would be fine in it. Depending on the cut of your meat, it will take from 2 to 4hrs to cook but it is so worth your while.

prep time 20 min     cook time 2-3h
ingredients for
  • 1,2 kg beef chuck (or brisket), cut into cubes
  • 1 dl (1/4 cup) flour
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 1-2 onions, quartered
  • 1-2 zucchini, cut into thick rounds
  • 1 celery stick, cut into large rounds
  • 3 carrots, cut into thick rounds
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • glass of red wine
  • small can (125g) of tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • fresh parsley, rosemary and thyme, finely chopped
  • salt and pepper

1. Dry the beef cubes with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Toss the beef with the flour (do not flour the beef until you are ready to brown it).

2. Coat a large, wide pan or Dutch oven with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. Add the flour-coated beef to the hot pan in batches and in a single layer making sure you do not over crowd the pot. Sear on all sides until the beef turns golden brown. Remove the seared beef to a plate and continue searing until all the beef is browned. Set aside.

3. Add more oil to the pan or Dutch oven if needed. Add the onions, peppers, carrots, zucchini and celery and sauté for about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 – 2 minutes. IF you want your veggies to remain crunchier, add them only for the last hour of cooking.

4. Add the red wine and bring to a boil scrapping the bottom of the pan to release the brown bits. Cook on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the tomato, rinse the can and add to pan. Return the beef to the pot with all the collected juices. Add water (just enough to almost cover the meat). The veggies release water while cooking. Add salt, pepper, herbs and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer and cover the pot.

5. Let simmer  covered at lowest heat for 2h. Depending on the cut of your beef, it may take longer.

6. Serve with potatoes or rice.

Eggplant casserole with a Greek twist

I love eggplants! This is a lighter version of eggplant parmesan. And anything with feta cheese can be considered Greek.

Prep time 30 min +30 min degorging eggplants    Cook time  45 min
  • 2 big eggplants
  • 450g (1 lb) ground lamb or beef
  • handful of dried herbs: oregano, basil, rosemary, mint
  • 2 onions
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 fennel
  • 2 celery sticks
  • 400g (14 oz)  crushed tomatoes
  • salt, pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 200g feta cheese

1. Cut the eggplants into slices and sweat or degorge them: sprinkle salt on the slices, put them in a colander with a weight on for 30 minutes and rinse or wipe them. This takes the bitterness out. Also you need less oil when frying since the eggplant soaks up oil like a sponge.

2. Roast or fry without oil the slices on both sides. Put aside. You can do this step a day before. Just store the roasted slices in the fridge.

3. Fry the ground meat in oil and add the herbs. I used fresh mint because I didn’t have any dry mint . Next time I will try all fresh herbs.

4. Chop the onions, fennel, celery and garlic, cook them in a pan with lots of olive oil  until soft. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and let simmer for 20 minutes.

5. Assemble your dish in layers: first onion-tomato sauce on the bottom, eggplants, ground meat and crumbled feta. Repeat 2-3 times. On top add the juice from the pan. I didn’t and had to moisten the dish half way through in the oven.

6. Put in a preheated oven at 170° C (340F) for 45 minutes.

7. Serve with good rustic Italian bread.