Pesto alla siciliana

Pesto alla siciliana

Have you perhaps grown tired of the typical green basil pesto? In that case this recipe, Sicilian pesto, is ideal for you. Ingredients that are typical for this region are used: fresh and ripe red tomatoes, ricotta, pine nuts and of course basil. When put together, these ingredients create a paste that is at the same time light, fresh and nourishing. There is a myriad of regional recipes, and some of them call for almonds or dry tomatoes, or even pistachios, but the common denominator remains ricotta. This recipe is especially good on a hot summer’s day, but it can be had all year round. Prepare long and dry pasta, like spaghetti, casareccia or penne, with it for the best results. The leftovers can be had the next day as a spread over bread.


ca. 20 leaves fresh basil

250 gr/ 9 oz tomatoes

25 gr/ 1 oz pine nuts

2 garlic cloves, minced

50 gr/ 1 2/3 freshly grated Parmigiano reggiano 

75 gr/ 2 2/3 ricotta

salt and pepper to taste

75 ml/ 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

dry pasta of your choice


Rinse and dry the basil leaves. Wash the tomatoes and cut them in two. Remove the inner part including the seeds and all excess liquid with a spoon. Put the tomatoes in a blender and pulse until coarsely chopped.

Add the basil leaves, pine nuts, garlic, ricotta and the grated parmigiano and continue the process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the oil and check the taste and consistency.

Meanwhile, prepare the pasta by cooking it in salted boiling water until al dente. Combine with the pesto and serve immediately.

Pesto alla siciliana


Spicy Chicken Balls

Spicy Chicken Balls

If you are looking for something new, this recipe with minced chicken could easily become your next favorite. It works equally well as a main course with salad and potatoes, and as a delightful party snack. The chickpeas add taste and consistency, and the hot and spicy condiment, sambal oelek, brings added value. Chicken is actually the most common type of poultry in the world, and as a very versatile food it can be grilled, baked, roasted, deep-fried, breaded, skewered, or made into sausages. Chicken consumption rose during World War II due to a shortage of beef and pork, and it rose again in the 1990’s because of consumer awareness of risks associated with beef. When it comes to the nutritional value, the meat itself contains very little fat, because the fat is concentrated on the skin. When measured as weight percentage, chicken meat contains about two to three times as much polyunsaturated fat than most types of red meat.


400 g/ 14 oz chicken mince

1 can pre-cooked chickpeas

olive oil

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp paprika powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 tbsp tomato puree

1-2 tsp sambal oelek chili paste

1 egg


Rinse and drain the chickpeas, and puree them together with the minced chicken in a blender or a food processor until smooth. Set aside.

Saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion softens. Add the paprika powder and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture cool down.

Add the sauteed onion and garlic into the chicken and chickpea mix and puree until the mixture is smooth. Combine with the pureed tomato and the sambal oelek paste. Add the egg and mix thoroughly.

Roll the mixture into balls (diameter 1.5 inch/ca. 4 cm). Fry the balls in a saucepan over a medium heat on all sides for about 5 minutes until they are golden. Turn occasionally. Remove all excess oil by placing them over a paper towel. Serve immediately with a refreshing salad and/or potatoes.

Spicy Chicken Balls

Risotto all’affumicata

Risotto all'affumicata

The full and delicious taste of this risotto will undoubtedly warm your heart and soul. In this recipe the smoked pancetta is combined with another smoked item, Provola affumicata cheese from Southern Italy’s Campania region. Smoking is actually a process to preserve, flavor and cook food by exposing it to smoke from wood or other burning or smouldering materials. Different types of meat, like pancetta, and fish are the most common smoked foods, although cheese and vegetables can be smoked, too. Smokehouse temperatures for cold smoking are typically between 20-30 C/68-86 F. Cold smoking can be simply used as a flavor enhancer because the food is smoked just long enough to give it some flavor, and the foods are still cooked, either by baking, grilling, roasting, or sautéing, before eating.


olive oil

1 onion, sliced

3-4 garlic cloves, minced

100 gr/ 3.5 oz smoked pancetta, in cubes

2.5 dl/ 1 cup risotto rice

1 liter/ 4 cups vegetable stock

80 gr/ 3 oz smoked Provola affumicata cheese, thinly sliced

250 gr/ 9 oz champignon mushrooms, sliced

salt and peper to taste

Risotto all'affumicata


Heat olive oil in a saucepan. Saute the smoked pancetta, onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion softens and becomes golden. Add the risotto rice and continue frying until the grains become glassy. Little by little, pour some vegetable stock into the pan. Keep stirring. After about 15 minutes the risotto rice is cooked al dente. Add the sliced smoked cheese and mix well.

Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms lightly in a pan until they release their juices. Season with salt and pepper.

Mix the risotto rice without cooking it any further with the mushrooms. Serve each plate immediately with a pinch of ground black pepper.

La ribollita

La ribollita

La ribollita is undoubtedly the queen of all hearty soups. The word means ‘reboiled’ – and slow cooking is indeed the secret of this thick vegetable soup. Hailing from Tuscany, there are many different versions and recipes, but they all call for black leaf kale, or cavolo nero. You might substitute this vegetable with Savoy cabbage, but the real thing would provide you with the best authentic and deliciously rustic feel and taste. The other key ingredient is the white cannellini bean that is central to many Tuscan dishes. Prepare the soup with the best ingredients you have at hand, and the next day, serve a different version by adding new vegetables. Enjoy the soup in good company with toasted Italian bread.


olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

100 grams/ 3.5 oz (smoked) pancetta, cubed (optional)

2-4 dry chillies, deseeded and finely chopped

2-3 carrots, sliced

1 celery stalk, sliced

3 medium size potatoes, diced

2 tins of peeled tomatoes

1 can of cannellini beans

1 head of black-leaf kale, i.e. cavolo nero, sliced

salt and pepper

fresh rosemary

fresh oregano

1.5 l/ 6 1/3 cups water

(stale) Italian bread

La ribollita


If you are using dry beans, soak them in plenty of water overnight. Drain and rinse.

Heat olive oil in a large cooking vessel, like a cast iron or cast aluminium pot, and saute the onion, garlic, and pancetta until the onion softens and becomes golden and the pancetta is crispy. Add the chili, carrots, potatoes and celery, and continue cooking for about 10 minutes. Add the tomato tins, the cabbage and the beans, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, and with the fresh herbs.

Add enough water, about 1.5 l/ 6 1/3 cups, to cover all the ingredients. Let the soup simmer for about 90 minutes over a very low heat. Remember to stir every now and then, and if needed, add water.

Let the soup stand for an hour. The longer it lingers, the better the taste gets. Reheat it again just before serving.

Toast (stale) Italian bread and put it at the bottom of the soup plate before ladling in the soup. Drizzle some olive oil over the soup and add a pinch of black pepper. You can also serve the soup with a slice of toasted bread.

Insalata di pasta ai tonno

Delicious, portable, healthy – pasta salads are perfect dishes for versatility, because they are easily portable and can be served in a myriad of ways. The ingredients used vary widely by region, season, and/or preference of the cook. Pasta salads can be very simple, or as elaborate as several short pastas tossed together with a variety of fresh, preserved or cooked ingredients. These can include vegetables, legumes, cheeses, nuts, herbs, spices, meats, poultry, or seafood. Even though pasta salad is often regarded as a spring or summertime meal, it can be easily served year-round. Here, penne pasta is combined with fresh tasty tomatoes, tuna, anchovies, and hard-boiled eggs. By avoiding fattening and calorie rich dressings, you can enjoy the true taste of the ingredients with a touch of raw olive oil.

Insalata di pasta con tonno


100 grams/ 3.5 oz penne rigate or penne pasta

100 grams/ 3.5  oz green beans

280 grams/ 10 oz tomatoes

fresh basil leaves

2 tins of Rio Mare tuna

2 hard-boiled eggs

8 anchovies fillets

a handful of capers

back olives (optional)

olive oil

salt and black pepper to taste


Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and set aside to cool down.

Cut the tomatoes lengthwise.

Cook the trimmed green beans in salted boiling water for ca. 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

On a large platter, arrange the tomatoes side by side. Mix the cooked pasta together with the drained tuna and shredded basil leaves, and season with salt and pepper. Put the pasta mix in the middle of the platter, and add the green beans and anchovies fillets. Set the halved eggs right in the middle of the salad. Drizzle some olive oil and season with black pepper. Garnish with capers and basil leaves. Serve as a lunch or dinner.

Insalata di pasta ai tonno