“Olive leaf” pasta with tomato and mozzarella

I’m so in love with this pasta — just two ingredients (three if you count a splash of water), spinach and durum wheat flour, rolled and coaxed into the shape of olive leaves. No eggs. It’s basically a green dough for orecchiette, the classic Pugliese ‘little ear’ pasta shapes. Because they are hand-rolled, orecchiette are generally a little thick and when cooked have a good bite to them, they hold their shape well and... Read More

Why our favourite pizza dough is Roman

My husband Marco has been on the search for his perfect pizza dough. He has long been the one in our family who loves making and experimenting with dough (like with this recipe for Bonci’s focaccia pugliese). You see, he loves pizza and bread and it’s no exaggeration to say he could happily live off them alone if it weren’t for the slightly negative reaction he gets when he eats it, thanks to a wheat intolerance. He has been managing... Read More

Fagioli del Purgatorio: a summery bean salad

Summer in Italy means one main thing for me — trying to keep cool, which includes staying away from the stove. Luckily, it’s also the time of year when fresh produce is so ripe and sweet, you barely need to do anything to it anyway — I practically live off tomatoes in the summer, dousing them in olive oil and eating with thickly torn pieces of buffalo mozzarella, usually. Or chopping or squeezing juicy ones raw into a sauce to... Read More

Radicchio, mascarpone and walnut cream

Of all the vegetables, radicchio just has to be the prettiest of all, don’t you agree? I have always loved gnarly Florentine tomatoes and purple-tinged artichokes too, but they’re beautiful for their rustic, imperfect nature. Radicchio, on the other hand, looks like each leaf was painted by an artist. Have you seen the ones with watercolour-washed, pale pink leaves, the ones with almost-white leaves splattered in magenta, Jackson Pollock... Read More

Ricotta gnocchi, a recipe from Ostro

I have known, and admired, Julia Busuttil Nishimura, for many years now and always felt connected through our love of Italian food, Tuscany (Julia lived in Florence and in Orbetello, just 10 minutes away from where we lived in Porto Ercole while I was writing Acquacotta) and Japan. So I have been eagerly awaiting her debut cookbook, Ostro: The Pleasure that Comes From Slowing Down and Cooking with Simple Ingredients, and it is a beauty — it... Read More

Ricotta and spinach ‘gnudi’ video recipe

When I was writing the manuscript for Florentine, I enlisted the help of an army of recipe testers — about 80 people from all over the world — to test every recipe thoroughly. Only one came back to me consistently with problems. From Minnesota to Melbourne, three testers wrote to me that their very first attempt at making Tuscan gnudi (ricotta and spinach balls that, rather than be encased in pasta like for ravioli, are simply dusted... Read More

Borage and ricotta crepes

I had seen it before, those fuzzy, furry leaves and stalks, with the pretty, star-pointed purple flowers, but up until that moment that I saw them sitting in a basket at the market stalls, I admit I had never taken notice of it as a food. It grow along cracks in stone walls and along the roadside near my home in Settignano, which is blooming with spring goodness right now: robinia (black locust) trees, wild garlic (three-cornered leek) and even... Read More

Spaghetti with monk’s beard

The sudden burst of spring produce in the market after a long, monotonous winter of cavolo nero and bright oranges is one of the things that constantly reminds me why I love living and eating in Italy. A wander through the market like any other becomes, in spring time, a new experience. I feel like a fresh arrival, like it’s my first time walking through my local market. There are long, twisty fava bean pods, waiting to be podded and munched... Read More

Preserving Italy and Tropea onion jam

I’ve had this cookbook sitting beside my bed for weeks, trying to decide what to cook. I’d pick it up, let a page fall open — almost like letting fate choose the recipe — and get distracted reading. It continued this way for a while. It’s my favourite way to read a cookbook. But the problem for me is that I’m indecisive. Should I make the boozy cherries? That’s how long ago it was when I first started reading... Read More

Raw tomato sauce for hot summer days

Quite possibly the best way to enjoy really good, ripe summer tomatoes – as well as making the most of spending as little time in front of a hot stove as possible – is raw tomato sauce for coating pasta. It’s something Marco makes for lunch on a warm day when he’s craving pasta al pomodoro (his ideal comfort food), but either doesn’t have the patience to cook the sauce or the desire to turn on the stove (except to boil the... Read More