Farfalle pasta with vegetables

This is a simple vegetarian pasta recipe. I used pumpkin, button mushrooms and onion to dress my pasta, but you can use veggies of your choice depending also on the season. No creamy sauces needed. Just fresh vegetables stir fried in good olive oil.

PREP TIME 10 MINUTES COOK TIME 20 MIN

INGREDIENTS FOR 4

  • 360g farfalle pasta
  • 450g pumpkin, cleaned and diced
  • 300g button mushrooms, diced
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • parsley
  • salt
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions or until al dente.
  2. Meanwhile cut and slice the vegetables.
  3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add the onion slices and fry for 1-2 minutes. Stir in the diced pumpkin and cook for 10 minutes.
  4. Add the diced/sliced mushrooms and cook for another 7-8 minutes. Season with salt.
  5. Drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the veggies. If needed, add a half a glass of the pasta cooking water.
  6. Serve with some chopped parsley.
  7. OPTIONAL: If you love Parmigiano cheese, you can top the plate with it.

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!

Greek stuffed tomatoes

Greek stuffed tomatoes, gemista, are similar to the Italian ones, mainly the Pomodori a riso alla romana, but there are some differences. And as with most recipes, there are variations based on the region and one’s grandmother 🙂 These healthy and juicy gemista are traditionally vegetarian but some use also ground beef or pork. Remember to use a good quality extra virgin olive oil which is key to a Greek ladera dish (prepared with oil).

prep time 20 min + 60 min for marinating    cook time 90 min
ingredients for 4
  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 125g rice (for risotto)
  • 1 small onion, minced
  • handful of fresh dill
  • handful of fresh mint
  • 1 Tbls tomato paste
  • extra vergin olive oil
  • juice of one lemon
  • ground black pepper
  • dahs of ground cumin
  • sweet paprika
  • ground cayenne pepper or peperoncino
  • salt
  • dash of sugar
  • 1-2 potatoes
  • 300 ml water
  • 1 Tbls tomato paste
  • 1-2 Tbls olive oil
  • salt, pepper, dried oregano

1.  Wash and pat dry the tomatoes. Cut off the top part of all the tomatoes and put aside. With a pairing knife help loosen the tomato flesh, scoop it with a spoon and put in a bowl. Place the tomatoes in a baking dish where you have put some olive oil on the bottom. Choose a baking dish where the tomatoes fit snuggly.

2.  Blend the tomato flesh with an immersion blender in a fairly large bowl. Add the minced onion, chopped dill and mint, the lemon juice, tomato paste, the cumin, sweet paprika and cayenne pepper. Season with salt and pepper and add a generous drizzle of olive oil. Mix and add the rice. Let marinate at room temperature for about an hour.

3. Peel and cut the potatoes into rounds (or wedges or cubes), put in a bowl, add 300ml of water and tomato paste. Season with oil, dried oregano, salt and pepper.

4. Pre-heat oven at 190C.

5. Add now a dash of sugar to the tomatoes and also a dash of salt. Fill them with the rice mixture which has by now absorbed most of the liquid in the bowl. Cover tomatoes with the tomato tops.

6. Place the potato slices now on top and around the tomatoes. Pour the liquid in the pan, about half way. Bake at 190C for 45 minutes covered, then uncover and bake for additional 45 minutes. Check to see if some more liquid is needed.

BUON APPETITO!

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
ingredients
  • 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.

BUON APPETITO!

Baked pasta with artichokes and zucchini

Baked pasta is one of the easiest dishes to make and you can use almost anything to mix into it. I was making it with artichokes but added two leftover zucchinis. I also used two different kinds of pasta.

prep time 15 min     cook time 25-35 min
ingredients for 6
  • 500g pasta, I mixed rigatoni and fusilloni
  • 5-6 artichokes, cleaned and chopped
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 500g besciamella
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • breadcrumbs
  • grated Parmigiano

1. Preheat oven at 200 C.

2. If making your own besciamella, here is the recipe. If using store bought besciamella, skip this step.

3. Cook the pasta according to the instructions in the package but leave it al dente.

4. Clean and then chop or slice the artichokes. You can read about cleaning them here. Then cook them in a pan with the oil for about 10 minutes. Add the sliced zucchini, season with salt and cook for additional 2-3 minutes.

5. After the artichoke mixture has cooled for a few minutes, stir in the besciamella sauce. Then add the cooked pasta and pour into a greased oven proof dish.

6. Sprinkle generous amount of grated Parmigiano and some breadcrumbs on top.

7. Cook for about 30 minutes until the top is golden and crispy.

BUON APPETITO!

Pasta salad with chickpeas

A fresh alternative for lunch. This pasta salad is simple and fast to make, nutritious and packed with flavour. You need only a few ingredients and it’s also very wallet-friendly.

prep time 5 min + marinating     cook time 10 min
ingredients for 3
  • 300g farfalle pasta
  • 1 can (400g) chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • parsley and basil, chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • grated Parmigiano

1. Place the chickpeas in a bowl, add garlic, the juice of half a lemon, 3-4 Tbls of olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix, cover the bowl and put in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours, better yet overnight.

2. Cook the pasta according the instructions on the package, drain and place in a serving bowl. Let cool.

3. Add the marinated chickpeas, some more olive oil and lemon juice, chopped herbs. Mix and add grated Parmigiano on top.

BUON APPETITO!

Briam

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.

BUON APPETITO!

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
ingredients
  • 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

BUON APPETITO!

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
ingredients
  • 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.

BUON APPETITO!

Conchiglie pasta with Tuscan kale

Tuscan… Cavolo Nero… Dinosaur… Lacinato. These all are names for the blackish-green, rough, wrinkly kale. Because it’s tender — and doesn’t taste like grass — it’s a great green to eat raw or cooked. I paired it today with tomatoes for a tasty condiment for my pasta. Like all greens, Tuscan kale should be thoroughly washed and dried. Cut the tough stems out. Roll the leaves into a long cigar shape and slice crosswise into ribbons.

prep time 15 min     cook time 10 min
ingredients for 4
  • 360g conchiglie pasta (seashell) or other short pasta of your choice
  • 4-5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 bunch of Tuscan kale
  • 250g cherry or date tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • peperoncino seeds or flakes (optional)

 as you can see I don’t really measure my oil…

1.  Boil the pasta according to the indication on the package, but drain it 2 minutes before and save a glass of the cooking water.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large pan over medium high heat. Sauté onions, garlic and peperoncino (if using) for a few minutes.

3. Add kale ( I should have trimmed mine further and cut into ribbons) and let cook for 4-5 minutes. It shrinks a lot while cooking.

4. Add tomatoes, salt and pepper and mixing ofter until tomatoes start to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add oil if needed.

5. Drain the pasta and toss it with the kale thoroughly for 1-2 minutes. Add a little bit of the cooking water. Serve immediately.

BUON APPETITO!