When we returned from Italy I had a list of three dishes I wanted to learn to make.
The first was Aubergine Parmigiana. Our hotel served a to-die-for version for lunch and I’ve been trying and failing for several weeks to recreate it.
The second was a dish I ate in the fantastic Leon di Oro in Riva: Tagliatelli with Black Truffles and Vezzana Cheese. I kid you not, the restaurant version is perhaps the nicest thing I’ve ever eaten. Ever. Looking forward to making that once truffles come into season later this year.
And the third was Taglierini al Limone, a delicate, fresh pasta dish that I ate in a little trattoria in the lovely town of Arco. It’s been very simple to recreate and, being so light and so simple to make, it has been my post-run lunch of choice this summer.
Sigh. I miss my lazy summer lunches.
Taglierini al Limone
200g taglierini (This is a slim, delicate tagliatelli type pasta that cooks very quickly. If you can’t find it, angel hair pasta would work well or linguine.)
Juice of one lemon and 1/2 tspn of the rind grated finely
3 tblspn extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
2 tblspn finely chopped parsley
- Whisk together the lemon juice and oil until emulsified. Bash the garlic clove with a rolling pin and pop it in the liquid to infuse.
- Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta. Drain reserving a little of the cooking water.
- Immediately after draining, add the pasta back to the pot. Remove the garlic from the lemony oil (you just want a hit) and add the oil and cheese to the pan. Use two forks to lift and toss the pasta, working the cheese and lemony oil evenly through it.
- Serve scattered with a grinding of pepper and a scattering of parsley.
So simple. So good.
Baked Feta with Tomatoes
100g Feta cheese
Handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 tblspn black olives, chopped
1 tspn capers
Leaves of one sprig of fresh thyme or a pinch of dried
- Preheat oven to 200 oC.
- Place feta in a small oven proof dish and break up a little. Scatter the tomatoes, olives, capers and thyme over the top and drizzle with a little olive oil.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is just beginning to go golden.
- Serve with flat bread.
Each evening in Italy we started our meal with a bowl of salad. I loved that the selection of vegetables were simply but beautifully prepared and tasted so fresh. My favourite dish was the courgettes. They tasted so very courgette-y! Knew I’d be preparing them in the same way once I returned home. And with a garden exploding with courgettes, that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. Almost every day, in fact.
With a dish this very simple, it’s important that the courgettes are very fresh and aren’t too large. Also, if you have a special bottle of olive oil, this is good time to use it.
Poached Courgettes with Parsley
(serves 4 as a side)
3 smalll-ish courgettes (not baby ones but not big fat ones either)
Extra virgin olive oil (the best you have)
- Add the whole courgettes to a pan of cold well salted water. Bring to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain the courgettes and run under cold water so they don’t cook any more.
- Slice the courgettes lengthways then into 0.5cm pieces so they are little semi-circles.
- Toss with a good glug of olive oil and gently toss with the parsley.
- Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of days.
Good grief, it’s lovely here right now. You know, I’ve always preferred the colours of autumn, the signs of spring and the sharpness of winter but this year… Well, this year summer has completely won me over.
After 10 days in Italy we returned home to Scotland to blue skies, balmy breezes and a garden which had exploded with flowers and berries and green, green, green. Temperatures have been consistently above 20 oC and we’ve had a BBQ every other night. Marco and I walk in a field of wild flowers first thing in the morning then in the cool woods in the early evening. After many years of wet, windy and grey summers, we are finally getting a summery summer. Well done, July. Well done!
The best BBQ meal we’ve had so far was lamb koftas, grilled aubergine and a colourful, tart Lebanese salad, fattoush. The fattoush recipe is below. Not 100% happy with the kofta recipe so I’ll wait until I’ve tried that again before I post it. It won’t be long though. Looking forward to having this meal again soon!
1 large cucumber
3 pitta breads
6 medium perfectly ripe tomatoes
2 handfuls of parsley, chopped finely
1 handful of mint, chopped finely
3 spring onions
For the dressing:
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 heaped tspn sumac
- Cut the cucumber into 2 cm chunks and place in a colander. Sprinkle salt over the cucumber and leave. After 30 mins, shake the cucumber to remove moisture and pat dry (no need to be thorough) with a clean teatowel.
- Meanwhile, peel and deseed the tomatoes then chop roughly.
- Toast the pitta under a hot grill until crisp and leave to cool.
- Slice the radishes finely and chop the spring onion.
- Mix the dressing together by putting the ingredients in a clean jar then shake vigorously.
- Break the toasted pitta into bite sized chunks and toss with all the vegetables. Drizzle with the dressing (you may not need all of it) and toss gently.
- Serve immediately so the pitta retains some of its crispness.
We’re back from Italy. Sigh. It was wonderful.
Didn’t take my Nikon with me this time but I did take a few snaps on my phone. So here they are.