Special quite days and occasions need to be filled with goodness to be really special.
In Southern Italy still exists a particular culinary tradition, where is still possible to taste authentic genuine food, as it once was. Yet, Southern Italy regional food and tradition are considered, by non- Italian cultures, as a complicated, but genuine, combination of ingredients. “Add a seat at the table, if there is one more friend” is the perfect motto to describe what normally happens at Italian tables.
Sunday lunch, birthdays, Christmas and any other holidays: you spend them laughing and eating around a table full of delicacies. It’s a real challenge against someone’s limits but unusually there’s always a free part in every stomach to accept a little more food.
It may seems strange, even crazy, but during these days the atmosphere is really special, so you have to grow up in such Italian families to really understand what it means. When you grow up adults and you move from your native place, of course, you lose such habit. (in fact, when you go back home to you relatives it sounds ironically traumatic).
Yet, despite the distance, I still have the habit to cook for all my family, especially during special days, and enjoy food made with love.
Unfortunately, there are some dishes cannot be enjoyed every day. Today is an important day for me: I am going to bake cannelloni stuffed with tofu, basil, spinach and nuts and covered with sauce and all my love.
Ingredients for 4 people:
1 kg fresh spinach;
50 g cashew nuts;
100 pine nuts;
Just enough basil;
A pinch of salt.
Ingredients for the sauce:
1/2 golden onion;
500g tomato sauce;
Just enough salt;
Half lemon juice.
Clean spinach and eliminate stems. Wash and rinse.
Cut tofu and let it marinate with salt, olive oil, lemon and chopped basil for 30 minutes.
Mash spinach, marinated tofu, cashew nuts and pine nuts
Add to the mixture all the ingredients and stir them well
Leave the mixture in the fridge for about 20 minutes
For the sauce:
Put a pan over the heat with a little olive oil:
Mince onion. Peel a clove of garlic.
Add onion and garlic in a frying pan, wait until it becomes browner;
Add tomato sauce, salt, pepper, fennel seeds and a few basil leaves.
Cook for about 20 minutes
Stir often with a wooden spoon to prevent sticking on the bottom;
Eliminate garlic cloves.
For the cannelloni:
Cover the base of a roasting pan with the sauce.
Add the filling for cannelloni, using a piping bag.
Cover the surface of the cannelloni with the sauce.
Cover the pan with an aluminum foil and bake at 180° for 30 minutes.
After 20 minutes, remove the foil to sear the surface of cannelloni.
My house is blooming. I smell scent of lavender, daisy and sunflower. Last Sunday we dropped by the amazing Flower Market on Columbia Road and, as always, I didn’t resist to all those colourful tonalities and infinite pleasant scents. We came back home with a handful of Spring in our hands and now my living room looks like the mirror of my emotions and at the same time you can feel in the air the desire to sink down in multi-coloured fields.
An old blanket, a poetry book and a basket full of delicious food: today we will have a picnic under the shade of an oak tree. I will serve a cold pasta salad with avocado, cherry tomatoes, basil, mint and other flavouring. This dish is the protagonist of my day and it looks like a floral arrangement. I am enjoying it while I am reading Neruda’s poems and I keep quiet when tasting my pasta.
“Here I love you.
Here I love you and the horizon hides you in vain.
I love you still among these cold things” (P. Neruda)
Let’s enjoy the Sun. We will blooming as love poems.
Ingredients for 4 people:
400 gr of Italian pasta;
2 not too much ripe avocados cut into chunks;
20 cherry tomatoes. Cut them into 2 parts;
Some mint leaves;
200 gr of roughly cut basil;
A table spoon of fennel seeds;
Some lemon juice;
Just enough pepper;
Just enough extra virgin olive oil;
200 gr of basil;
1 chopped garlic clove;
1/5 onion finely chopped;
1 table spoon 100% maple syrup;
A pinch of salt;
Just enough balsamic vinegar.
Cook the pasta, drain it “al dente” and pass it under cold water to stop the cooking process, then put it into a bowl;
Stir cherry tomatoes together with basil, mint, garlic, onion, pepper, lemon juice, fennel seeds, maple syrup, vinegar, oil and salt: mix well all the ingredients and let it marinate for about 30 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally;
Add the seasoning to the pasta, add avocado and stir it well;
We have all forgotten the importance of small gesture, the scent of naturalness and simple things. This morning, let’s take time for us… Let’s have breakfast in peace, like we used to when we were kids.
It’s Sunday and I woke up very early with the sunlight brushing my hair. Francesco is still wrapped in his dreams. Then I take a pan, some strawberries, some cream and chips of chocolate, and I add a flavor of love and feeling of empathy: these are the ingredients for a sweet awakening. I love having breakfast with fluffly and still warm pancakes, accompanied with fruits and a cascade of maple syrup or cream. A quick and easy recipe, that can really improve your day. Sometimes we underestimate the power of food and healthy tastes, which are the only ones able to spread the right daily positive vibes.
After we have reloaded with this abundant and healthy breakfast, we went for a long walk to the wonderful paths of Victoria park. Suddenly, we found ourselves surrounded by the green Nature of the park, the chirping of the birds in the background, the smell of the summer peeping out from the horizon. You don’t really need to go far away to smile. I mean, let’s not get lost in the conformity of everyday life, just be ourselves!
Our recipe replaces the traditional ingredients with oat flour instead of the white one, vegetable milk instead of cow’s milk, ripe banana instead of white sugar and baking soda and vinegar instead of yeast!
This recipe is great even for your kids, who can enjoy it for snack!
Ingredients for 5-6 (more or less) Pancakes:
130 g of oat flour;
230 ml of vegetable milk;
2 ripe bananas;
A pinch of baking soda;
1 tea spoon vinegar;
Some organic lemon zest;
A pinch of salt.
Pour in a bowl the oat flour, baking soda, vinegar, a pinch of salt, vegetable milk, lemon zest and stir them well together;
Cut bananas into small chunks and add them to the mixture. With the help a mixer blend well the dough;
Preheat a non-stick pan with a diameter of about 10 cm;
With a spoonful take the mixture and pour in the centre of the pan, then let it spread out;
Let it cook for few minutes. When you see little bubbles, then your pancake is ready to be turned on the other side until it has browned. Help yourself with a spatula;
Repeat the process until the dough is finished;
Pile up pancakes on the top of each other and stuff them as you wish.
You can use for the topping the traditional maple syrup or let your imagination run free…
I used a vegan cream (the same one I used for the tart, you can find the recipe here), some strawberries and chips of dark chocolate.
If you don’t eat all your pancakes, save them in the fridge for about 3 days, then reheat and enjoy them again!