Roasted fennel

Fennel is one of my favourite vegetables. This roasted fennel is an easy to prepare side dish that goes well with roast chicken or fish. Fennel transforms when roasted, losing all of its licorice flavour and crunchy texture to become caramelized, soft and deliciously buttery. It is suitable for most diets, but if you are on a dairy free diet or strictly vegan, you can omit the Parmigiano.



  • 2 large fennel bulbs
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves (optional)
  • 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup of grated Parmigiano
  • salt and pepper
  • dried herbs of your choice: origano, thyme, sage, rosemary
  1. Preheat the oven to 200 C.
  2. Remove the fronds from the fennel bulbs and save them for garnish. Cut the bulbs in half lengthwise and then into thick slices.
  3. Put the slices in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and dried herbs. Add the breadcrumbs and also the Parmigiano. Mix well.
  4. Arrange the slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet ensuring that they are all laid out evenly and do not overlap. 
  5. Pour or sprinkle the oil evenly on the fennel slices.
  6. Roast the fennel in the oven for 35 minutes until it’s tender and caramelized on the edges (cook for another 5-8 minutes if its not yet tender). Serve warm. 


Sweet and sour red onions

These pickled onions are a tasty side dish. Easy to prepare with onions and a blend of water, vinegar and sugar. Excellent on good crusty bread or sandwiches but also as a side dish to meat or fish.

prep time 10 min

cook time 30 min

  • 3-4 medium size red onions
  • 150 g water
  • 50 ml red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbls granulated or brown sugar
  • salt
  • olive oil
  1. Peel and thinly slice the onions. Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan, add the onion and sauté for a few minutes.
  2. Combine water, vinegar and sugar and add this blend to the pan. Let simmer for about 20-25 min until the liquid has almost dried up. Add some salt.
  3. Let cool and serve. Keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 2 days.


Classic tomato bruschetta

Ah bruschetta, one of the best ways to enjoy the bounty of summer. Pronounced “brusketta”, this classic Italian appetizer is a perfect way to capture the flavors of garden ripened tomatoes, fresh basil and good olive oil. Use any flavorful, ripe tomato for this recipe. The key to good bruschetta are ripe sweet tomatoes which do not need to be blanched or peeled, good rustic bread and good extra virgin olive oil.

There’s usually no exact quantity of oil mentioned in any Italian bruschetta recipe, I checked 🙂 But let’s say 2 dl of good extra virgin olive oil to start with. Then about the bread. You get the best results with a good rustic bread, better yet if it’s from the day before. Baguette or toast are too soft even after grilling them, they just get soggy.

prep time 10 min + 30 min to marinate
  • 500g ripe sweet tomatoes
  • 8-10 slices of rustic bread
  • handful of fresh basil
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • clove of garlic (optional)

1. Prepare first the tomatoes. Dice them, I prefer mine relatively big, but you can dice them very small if you like and put them in a bowl. Tear the basil into small pieces and add to the bowl. When chopped, the leaves turn dark, sometimes they even take on a black quality that’s not very pretty. Add salt, remember that tomatoes love salt, and then the oil. Stir well and let marinate at least 30 minutes. Taste.

2. Grill the slices of bread on both sides on the grill or in the oven. If you are in a pinch, you can toast them. Gasp! No oil needed to coat the bread before grilling them.

3. When the bread is ready, you can swipe the top side with a peeled garlic clove and sprinkle some salt and olive oil on it. That’s the simplest way to enjoy  bruschetta. You can also swipe the bread with garlic before adding the tomatoes.

4. Spoon the tomatoes on the grilled bread a few minutes before serving. I prefer letting the tomatoes sit on the bread for at least 10 minutes. I don’t mind if they get soaked a little. I think it’s more flavourful.

Tip: you can substitute rucola for basil


Savoury muffins

Make a batch of savoury muffins for a snack or an appetiser. They are also great for a light lunch or dinner with a bowl of salad. They are easy to make and you can use a plethora of vegetables and cheese or a combination of these.

prep time 10 min     cook time 25 min
ingredients for 12 muffins
  • 125 g butter
  • 2 eggs
  • dash of salt
  • 200 g plain yogurt ( or ricotta)
  • 150 g flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 50 g sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1 spring onion or a small onion
  • 100 g feta (or blue cheese)
  • 1 Tbls fresh thyme
  • 75 g grated cheese

1. Pre-heat oven at 200C and grease a muffin tin.

2. Melt the butter and let cool. Beat the eggs, salt and the yogurt lightly into the butter.

3. Mix the flour and baking powder and then add this to the batter with a spoon just until combined. Do not beat.

4. Drip the oil from the sun-dried tomatoes and mince them. Dice also the onion, crumble the feta and add all this to the batter.

5. Add the thyme (you can also use dried thyme) and half of the grated cheese.

6. Fill the muffin tin and add the remaining cheese.

7. Bake at 200C for 15-20 min until the muffins have a nice golden crust. Serve lightly cooled.

Tip: try chives, celery, carrots, zucchini, bell peppers, leek,  button mushrooms, baby spinach ( I had a few zucchini flowers that I tossed into the mix), different kinds of cheese, bacon, sausage or ham, fresh (or dried) herbs like oregano, basil, lemon thyme, marjoram.

Tip: these freeze well.


Pomodorini confit (slow cooked cherry tomatoes)

These pomodorini confit, the slow cooked cherry tomatoes are used to accompany pasta dishes or to garnish many main courses. They can be offered also as an appetiser or a side dish or in panini or on bruschetta. You can also store them in the fridge in a glass jar, totally covered with extra virgin olive oil for about 2 weeks. Pomodorini confit are deliciously caramelized cherry tomatoes. The secret is to evaporate the water out of the tomatoes, without making them too dry. So you need to cook them at low temperature for 2 hrs.

prep time 10 min    cook time 90-120 min
ingredients for 1 normal size oven tray
  • 1 kg cherry tomatoes, or date or piccadilly or any kind of baby tomatoes as ripe as possible
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbls sugar
  • fresh herbs like thyme, marjoram
  • oregano fresh or dried
  • 2-3 garlic cloves

1. Preheat the oven to 140°C (280°F). Set baking rack to middle position.

2. Wash the tomatoes,  pat dry and cut in half.

3. Place them cut side up onto a large baking tray, on top of parchment paper.

4. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, the herbs and a little bit of sugar on top of each one. Add the garlic cloves here and there, no need to peel them.

5. Drizzle with olive oil and place in the oven. (don’t mind the glass jars underneath the tray, I was sterilising them)

6. Bake for 2 hrs. The time depends on your oven and the size of the tomatoes.

This is after 90 minutes in my oven.

This is how they look after 2 hrs in the oven. NOW they are ready.


Easy cheesy roasted asparagus

Asparagus is in season now so we eat it a lot. Usually boiled and tossed with olive oil and lemon juice, but I wanted to try a new recipe. It was a hit in my house. You don’t need to peel the green asparagus or trim any other part. To remove the woody ends simply line them up and slice 2-3 cm or bend and snap. The choice is yours.

prep time  5-10 min     cook time 15-20 min

  • 500 g asparagus, ends snapped
  • 250 g cherry or plum tomatoes, halved
  • 100 g mozzarella or Gruyere cheese
  • 3-4 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • dried origano
  • handful of olives
    1. Preheat oven to 200C.

2. Spread the asparagus, evenly, in a single layer on a baking tray and place the cheese on top. Add the tomatoes and oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lastly add the olives and some origano.

3. Pop in the oven at 200c for about 15 min, or until just starting to wrinkle and soften. I like my asparagus have a little bite, but if you prefer them thoroughly cooked, bake a couple of more minutes. The cooking time depends also on the size of the asparagus.


Roasted winter vegetables

This is a mixture of comforting winter veggies that can be served on its own, as a side dish or as a component of a frittata or pasta. Add chickpeas and it becomes a whole dish.

prep time 30 min     cook time 35 min
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 3-4 large carrots
  • 1-2 red onions
  • 1 radicchio (red chicory) head
  • 350g big button mushrooms
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas
  • salt and pepper
  • rosemary and marjoram (or other herbs)
  • extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 190 C and line a baking sheet or a roasting pan with parchment paper.

2. Cut the fennels into slices, the carrots into rounds and quarter the mushrooms. Wash, dry and cut the the radicchio into strips and slice the onions.

3. Toss the veggies in a large salad bow, add salt and pepper and spread the vegetables in an even layer on the baking sheet.

4. Rinse the chickpeas and scatter them on top of the veggie mix. Add a lug of olive oil and sprinkle the herbs on top.

5. Bake about 30 minutes.



Briam, Greek roasted vegetables, is an example of how you can transform the simplest ingredients with no effort into a mouthwatering dish. Briam falls under the category of Greek dishes called ‘ladera’ meaning dishes prepared with only olive oil, no addition of other fat. Make sure to use some good quality extra virgin olive oil.

prep time 15 min     cook time 90 min
ingredients 5-6
  • 1/2 kg zucchini
  • 1/2 kg eggplant
  • 1/2 kg potatoes
  • 2 onions
  • 3-4 carrots
  • 1/2 kg ripe tomatoes or a can (400g) of peeled tomatoes
  • 100g extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley, mint and/or oregano
  • salt and pepper

1.  Preheat the oven to 180 C.

2. Wash and cut the zucchini and eggplant into 1,5cm rounds. Then quarter the eggplant rounds.

3. Peel and cut the potatoes into 1 cm rounds and quarter, or cut into chunks.

4. Peel and quarter the onions. Peel and cut the carrots into thick rounds.

5. Wash and halve the tomatoes if using ripe ones.

6. Place the veggies into a  large baking pan so the veggies are not layered too deep. Or use two pans. Season with salt, herbs and pour the oil on top. Mix with a wooden spoon or use your hands.

7. Place the pan in the oven covered with an aluminum foil for the first 45 min.

8. Uncover and let cook for the remaining 45 min. If need be, you can raise the oven temperature to 200 C for the last 10 minutes. If using two baking pans, change their place about half way through.

9. Serve as a side dish or a main with a chunk of feta and some good crusty bread.


Grilled eggplant

Grilled eggplant or aubergine is a fabulous dish, serve it warm as a side dish, cold as an antipasto or chopped in a salad. Eggplants are in season in summer but you can find them all year round in most places. Eggplants can be tricky, using too much oil they become slimey, leaving them too thick gives them an unpleasant texture. The key is salting which draws out the bitterness and leaves them less “spongy” hence they absorb less oil.

prep time 5 min + salting time     cook time 20 min
  • 2 medium size eggplants
  • salt
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley

1. Cut the eggplants crosswise into about 0,5cm thick slices, place them in a colander and sprinkle some salt on them. Put a plate and a weigh on top and let sweat/degorge for 20-30 minutes. Rinse them quickly and pat dry with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel.

2. In the meantime prepare a mix of oil and parsley in a serving dish.

3.  Heat a grill or grill pan over medium-high heat and grill eggplant slices until tender and slightly charred, about 2-3 minutes per side.

4. Grill a small patch at a time and place the grilled slices directly in the dish with the oil and parsley mix or you can brush the slices with the mix.

Tip: you can add thinly sliced garlic into the mix


Roasted Roman broccoli

One of Rome’s most beautiful and distinctive winter vegetables is the broccolo romanesco. A cousin of broccoli and cauliflower, its bright green, pointy spiral florets are bound to catch your eye at local food markets, while the flavor is pleasingly sweet, nutty and delicate.

It is often served as a side dish by simply boiling it and dressing it in a little extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. But today I made it in the oven.

prep time 5 min     cook time 25 min
  • 1 broccolo romanesco
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • bread crumbs
  • grated Parmigiano or Grana

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking sheet with slightly oiled parchment paper.

2. Wash the romanesco, take off the leaves and cut into 1cm slices. Place on the the baking sheet, drizzle with oil and season with salt and black pepper and other herbs to your liking. Sprinkle bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese on top.

3.  Place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until tender.

Tip: feel free to use normal broccoli or cauliflower if you can’t find romanesco.