Cauliflower potato soup

This soup is easy to make and full of flavour. It’s especially nice in the colder months but you can make a lighter version leaving out the pasta. For protein I used chickpeas but you could add cooked chicken or turkey. Use any mixture of your favorite herbs for this soup recipe. I’ve gone for rosemary and parsley, but you can use fresh thyme, oregano or even mint or sage.



  • a small cauliflower, trimmed of leaves and stalks and cut into small florets
  • 2-3 potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • peperoncino flakes (optional)
  • 750 g vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 can (400 g) chickpeas, rinsed
  • 200 g orzo pasta (risoni) or other small pasta of your choice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • grated Parmigiano
  • rosemary and parsley
  1. Heat a few Tbls of oil in a large soup pot and fry the chopped carrot and onion gently for a few minutes and then add the crushed garlic and the peperoncino if using.
  2. Tip in the cauliflower and potatoes, stir and then pour in the stock.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes before adding the rinsed chickpeas, parsley and rosemary.
  5. Add the pasta, bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
  6. Plate and add grated Parmigiano on top.

For VEGAN option, leave out the Parmigiano



Ratatouille, this delicious (summer) vegetable dish of French origin, is tasty and healthy and easy to make. There are plenty of variations, some include tomato sauce, some béchamel sauce, some are cooked in a pan on a stove, some in the oven. This is my take.



  • 2 small eggplants
  • 2 peppers, one yellow and one red
  • 3 zucchini
  • 4 potatoes
  • 3 red onions
  • 4 tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • handful of bread crumbs
  • handful of grated Parmigiano
  • basil and parsley, chopped
  1. Pre-heat oven to 190 C.
  2. Wash, pat dry and cut all the veggies into rounds, about 1/2 cm wide and peppers into chunks approximately the size of the veggie rounds. I used new potatoes so left them unpeeled.
  3. Line a baking dish with a sheet f baking paper, drizzle some oil and place all the sliced veggies in the dish in rows or in a circular pattern in an upright position. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the veggies.

4. Add now the breadcrumbs, grated Parmigiano and chopped herbs and drizzle some oil on top.

5. Bake for about 40-50 minutes depending on your oven and on the size of your veggies.


Baked eggplant pasta

Baked eggplant pasta combines roasted eggplant, hard baked ricotta cheese, mozzarella and tubular pasta like rigatoni, ziti, penne or tortiglioni tossed in a tomato sauce and baked until golden and bubbly. This is not a quick dish to make but the time spent is well worth it.



  • 1 large eggplant or 2 medium cut into cubes
  • 500 g rigatoni pasta
  • 700 g tomato passata or 2 cans of crushed or plum tomatoes
  • 250 g mozzarella shredded or cut into cubes
  • 50 g grated ricotta cheese or alternatively 50 g grated Pecorino cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • basil leaves
  • peperoncino (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 225 C.
  2. You can peel the eggplant but it is not necessary. Toss the eggplant cubes with oil and season with salt. Spread the cubes onto a baking tray (or trays) and roast for 20-25 minutes. Turn the eggplant halfway through. When done, keep them aside. Lower the oven to 190 C.
  3. Meanwhile make the tomato sauce: heat some oil in a large saucepan to medium heat and sauté the onion until soft 4-5 min. Add the garlic and peperoncino if using and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato passata or plum tomatoes and cook uncovered at low for 20-25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cook pasta in abundant salty boiling water and drain 2-3 minutes less than al dente.
  5. Mix the pasta, the sauce and the eggplant in a large bowl.
  6. Layer the pasta in a baking dish. Add the mozzarella in between the layers and leave a handful to top the dish. Sprinkle the grated ricotta and a few basil leaves on top.

7. Bake at 190 C for 30 minutes until golden brown. It’s best to wait 10-15 minutes before eating to let the pasta settle.

Tip: you can fry the eggplant cubes instead of roasting them in the oven.


Red cabbage salad

This colourful winter salad makes my heart sing. It’s colourful, flavourful and easy to make so what’s not to love.



  • 1 very small red cabbage or half of a medium one
  • 1 bag (125 g) baby spinach
  • 2 mandarins
  • seeds of half a pomegranate
  • a handful of cashews and pumpkin seeds
  • olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper for the dressing
  • crumbled feta (optional)
  1. Discard the outer leaves of the cabbage, cut in half and take out the hard inner cord. Slice into thin slices either with a knife or a mandolin. Place the slices on a serving tray or platter.
  2. Add the baby spinach to the platter.
  3. Peel the mandarins and separate into segments.
  4. Add the mandarin segments and the pomegranate seeds onto the platter. Top with the cashews and pumpkin seeds. If you want, you can roast them for a few minutes in a pan without oil.
  5. Whisk together the oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and drizzle it on top of the salad.
  6. If using, add the crumbled feta on top.


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. 


Baked feta pasta

This pasta recipe was the talk of the town a few years back and it’s still going strong. I wanted to give it a go to see what all the rage was about. It’s made by oven roasting a block of feta with cherry tomatoes to create a salty and creamy sauce for your pasta. The original recipe is from a Finnish blog here



  • 300g spaghetti, fettuccine or pappardelle
  • 200g feta
  • 400g cherry tomatoes (of different colours)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 or more garlic cloves
  • salt and pepper
  • peperoncino (optional)
  • dried origano
  • fresh basil
  1. Preheat oven to 200 C and cook the pasta al dente according to package instructions.
  2. Pour some olive oil on the bottom of a baking dish and place the block of feta on top. Add the chopped peperoncino and the origano on top of the cheese and pour some more olive oil on top. Now place the cherry tomatoes and garlic cloves around the feta, swirl them in the olive oil and season with pepper and a dash of salt.
  3. Bake in 200 C for 15 minutes, turn the heat to 225 C, move the dish to the upper rack and use grilling mode for 10 minutes. Don’t let the tomatoes burn.

4. Break the feta and mix with tomatoes. Add the cooked pasta and toss well to combine. Garnish with fresh basil leaves.

Tip: next time I’ll remove the stems before putting the tomatoes in. They look nice in the photo but are a drag to remove. Also I would try half feta cheese and half ricotta because even though I love feta as is, I found the baked feta a bit too salty and tangy for my taste. But definitely try the recipe!


Pan fried sea bass with tomatoes

Sea bass, spigola or branzino in Italian, is an easy option for a nice, low calorie meal. You need just a few ingredients and under 20 minutes to serve this pan fried sea bass with tomatoes.



  • 2 big sea bass (or sea bream) fillets
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt and pepper
  • parsley
  • capers (optional)
  1. Start by patting the fillets dry while heating a pan on medium to high heat on the stove top. Add oil (you can add a knob of butter, too) until it’s very hot. Place the fish fillets skin-side down and press a little with a spatula if they start curling up.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and let cook for 4 minutes undisturbed until you can see the the flesh cooked two thirds of the way up and the skin is crisp and brown.
  3. Turn the fillets over and add salt and pepper and the tomatoes. Let cook for additional 3-4 minutes. Add the capers if using and some chopped parsley.


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.


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.



  • 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.


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.



  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, diced
  • 2-3 Tbls olive oil
  • 3-4 potatoes, diced
  • 4-5 garlic 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.