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.

PREP TIME 15 MIN COOK TIME 6 HRS

INGREDIENTS FOR 5-6

  • 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.

BUON APPETITO!

Lentil potato soup

Fall and winter are a perfect time to prepare hearty soups. This lentil potato soup with lemon is vegan, easy to make, and full of flavour. Enjoy a bowl of this nourishing kale and lentil soup on its own or with some crusty bread or maybe adding some rice or risoni (orzo pasta) for a satisfying meal.

PREP TIME 15 MIN COOK TIME 30 MIN

INGREDIENTS FOR 4-5

  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2-3 Tbls olive oil
  • 3-4 potatoes, diced
  • 4-5 grill cloves, crushed
  • 300g lentils of your choice
  • 1 tsp of each: curry powder, ground cumin, paprika
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper
  • 1.5 l stock (or water)
  • juice of 3 lemons
  • chopped cavolo nero/Tuscan kale or another type of kale
  1. In a heavy bottom pot heat the olive oil over medium heat and fry the onions, carrots and celery for 4-5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and give it a good stir, then add the curry powder, ground cumin and paprika. Cook for another minute.
  3. Stir in the rinsed lentils, stock and potatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook, covered, for 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked and potatoes are fork-tender. Add salt.
  4. Add the shredded kale and cook for 5 or more minutes until the kale is wilted. Stir in the lemon juice and season with black pepper.

BUON APPETITO!

Lemon chicken soup

This chicken soup uses lots of lemon and feta cheese so you might call it Greek-inspired. Easy and fast to make, and so so good with lemon, feta and peperoncino to give it some heat.

prep time 10 min     cook time 20 min
ingredients for 4
  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 2 l chicken broth
  • 1 sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 garlic gloves, minced
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cm piece of ginger, grated
  • peperoncino flakes
  • salt
  • 2 Tbls extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 avocado
  • 150g feta cheese, crumbled
  • fresh thyme
  • 130g short angel hair pasta or 2 dl pearl couscous

1. Place olive oil in a large pot over medium low heat. Sauté onion, garlic and peperoncino (the amount is up to you) for a few minutes and then add grated ginger.

2. Add the broth, the zest and the chicken breasts to the pot. Season with salt. Increase the heat to high, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. You can add the pasta or the couscous now and let cook for 5 more minutes. If making this amount but using only a portion, I suggest adding the pasta at the end to the amount of soup you are using, otherwise the pasta or couscous become mushy.

3. Turn off the heat. Remove the breasts from the pot and shred the chicken using two forks. Return to the pot and add the lemon juice.

4. Ladle into the soup bowls and decorate each bowl with 1/4 of avocado slices, 40 g of crumbled feta and some fresh thyme.

5. The soup keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days without the pasta or couscous.

BUON APPETITO!

Coconut curry chicken soup

Curry and coconut are one of the most sublime combinations out there. I love that this coconut curry chicken soup can be a light yet filling lunch as a simple bowl of soup, or a more hearty dish when ladled over rice or noodles. You can also substitute some veggies with others and make it totally new.

prep time 10 min     cook time 25 min
ingredients for 4
  • 400 g chicken breast, shredded or cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3 carrots, cut into rounds
  • 2 potatoes, diced
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • grated ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsp green curry paste
  • 1 l chicken or vegetable stock
  • curry powder
  • turmeric
  • salt
  • 1 can (400g) coconut milk
  • parsley (or coriander)
  • handful of pumpkin seeds to garnish
  • optional: fresh spinach leaves, snow peas, white buttons, bell peppers

1. In a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat sauté the onions until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and curry paste and stir to combine.

2. Stir in carrots and potatoes, cook for about 3-5 min. Add stock, curry powder, turmeric, salt and the chicken, cook for 10 min or until your chicken is done.

3. Add coconut milk and cook for additional 3 min. Check the seasoning and add chopped parsley ( or coriander).

4. Serve as is or over basmati rice. Add pumpkin seeds onto your plate.

Tip: substitute chicken with salmon and parsley with dill and voilà:

BUON APPETITO!

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.

BUON APPETITO!

Sausage and lentil stew

Sausages and lentils are a combination made in heaven. This is a one-pot hearty stew to share with friends and family. You can make ahead and freeze it if you prefer.

prep time 15 min     cook time  35-45 min
ingredients for 6
  • 2-3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 500g good quality pork sausages
  • 125g cubed pancetta or bacon
  • 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, cut into rounds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, picked
  • 400g lentils
  • 750ml hot chicken or vegetable stock (or water)
  • 1 (200g) can crushed tomatoes
  • small bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • peperoncino flakes/seeds (optional)

1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large casserole or pan. Add pancetta and sausages and sizzle for 10 minutes, turning the sausages a few times until nicely browned. Scoop the sausages onto a plate.

2. Add the remaining oil and stir in the onions, carrots, pepper and garlic and sauté for a few minutes until the onions start to soften. Add also the peperoncino at this time if using.

3. Return sausages to the pan and add lentils, stock, tomatoes and picked rosemary. Bring to a boil, then cover the pan and let simmer for 30 min or until the lentils are tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Check the cooking time for your lentils as it varies a lot depending on the type of lentils you use.

4. Leave covered for 5 minutes before seasoning with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

5. Scatter over the parsley and serve from the pan.

BUON APPETITO!

Curry flavoured lentil soup

It is soup season. This curry flavoured lentil soup is thick, hearty and perfect for a chilly day. Not only it is full of nourishing vegetables and spices, but it is also packed with plant-based protein thanks to lentils. It will fill you up without weighing you down.

prep time 10 min     cook time 30 min
ingredients for 4
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2-3 carrots, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 3-4 potatoes, diced
  • 1-1,5 tbsp curry powder (preferably with no added salt)
  • 1-1,2 l vegetable broth
  • 200 g green lentils, thoroughly rinsed and drained
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fennel fronds to garnish

1. Heat a large pot over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion and carrots. Cook for 3-5 minutes stirring frequently until onion is softened.

2. Add garlic, ginger  and curry powder, stir to coat and cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Next add potatoes, lentils and broth to the pot. Season with salt and pepper. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check the cooking time for your lentils.

4. Serve warm with crusty bread. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for5 days, frozen up to 2 month.

tip: you can replace the potatoes with small pasta adding that at the end.

BUON APPETITO!

Ajapsandali

Ajapsandali is a traditional Azerbaijani, Georgian and Armenian dish consisting of onions, eggplant, tomato, bell peppers and herbs. Ajapsandali will have a better look if you use peppers of various colours. To preserve vitamins and colour, do not stew vegetables for a long time. Some variations include also potatoes and chili peppers. This is a fabulous hearty one-pot meal. You can pair this with good salty feta unless you want to keep it strictly vegetarian.

prep time 25 min     cook time 45 min
ingredients for 6-7
  • 3 large eggplants
  • 2-3 sweet peppers
  • 1 green pepper
  • 3 onions
  • 4 big potatoes
  • 2 carrots
  • 4-5 big tomatoes (or a can of peeled or crushed tomatoes)
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • chili pepper or peperoncino
  • fresh dill
  • fresh coriander
  • salt and pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • optional: feta cheese

1. Cut the eggplant into cubes, sprinkle salt on them and let sweat while you prepare the other vegetables.

2. Cut the peppers into long strips, the carrots into large rounds and the potatoes into chunks. Slice the onions, chop the garlic and the herbs.

3. Pat dry the eggplant cubes and fry them in olive oil for a few minutes. Turn the heat on low.

4. Add the potatoes, sprinkle some salt and pepper on top. Keep adding in layers the onions and tomatoes, then the peppers and garlic. Add some salt and at the end 1-2dl of water.

5. Turn up the heat to a boil and  then simmer on medium for 35-40 minutes without the lid until the vegetables are cooked and some liquid has evaporated. At the end add the chopped herbs.

6. Serve with crusty bread and some feta cheese.

BUON APPETITO!

Chicken veggie bean soup

This soup is easy to make like most of my recipes. It is full of flavour and very filling especially if you add rice or couscous or even tiny pasta to cover your grain/carb intake. You can easily add or substitute some of the veggies.

prep time 10 min     cook time 40 min
ingredients for 4
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 big onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 500g skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 green peppers
  • 125g baby spinach
  • 4-5 big button mushrooms, halved or quartered
  • 1 can (400g) drained red beans
  • 1 small can (200g) diced or crushed tomatoes + some water
  • peperoncino (optional)
  • basil and or parsley
  • salt and pepper

1. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or a heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and chicken and sauté for 5 minutes or until lightly browned.

2. Add carrots, peppers, peperoncino if using, and tomatoes. Rinse the can and add the water on top. Bring to a boil and let simmer. Add salt and pepper.

3. After 15 minutes add drained beans and mushrooms and cook uncovered for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add baby spinach and basil (and/or parsley)for the last few minutes.

5. Serve hot adding the grain of your choice.

6. Keeps well in the fridge up to 2 days.

BUON APPETITO!

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.
BUON APPETITO!