Pasta with chicken & pesto

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This dish combines 3 of my favourites… pasta, chicken and basil pesto (homemade of course). There is something therapeutic about making pesto in a mortar & pestle. It takes longer than a blender but you have better control over the outcome. Cook the pasta till al dente, add the warm chicken then coat with plenty of pesto and top with parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil. I love parmesan cheese so find myself always going back for extra toppings mid-way through!

Gnocchi

I’ll be honest, homemade gnocchi is a little time consuming and messy, however, making your own will always be better than packaged gnocchi from a supermarket. There isn’t much to gnocchi, potatoes, flour and an egg. Simple. This dish is served with homemade passata with mozzarella melted into the sauce for extra flavour. Serve with parmesan and enjoy!

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Frittata

There is something therapeutic about cooking a frittata. Once I have fried my base ingredients, on this occasion chorizo and mushrooms, I add the whisked eggs and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. The slower the simmer, the better. IMG_2861

This frittata also has silverbeet and dollops of fresh ricotta. When the frittata is almost cooked, place it under a hot grill to give it a nice golden finish.
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Mix up frittatas with a variety of ingredients. This one has roasted potatoes, pumpkin, italian sausage and feta.

Squid ink risotto

In 2007 I was in Genoa and tasted squid ink spaghetti for the first time on a strong recommendation from my local hosts. Ever since I have always been curious about it, ordering it at every possibility. People think the ink will make the risotto super-fishy but that is not the case. Visually, this is special as no other dish is completely black and there is something mysterious about eating risotto with ink.
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Like all Italian dishes, minimal ingredients, an onion, garlic, chilli (optional) and squid. We substituted fish stock for chicken stock and cooked the squid separately with a splash of lemon, adding it to the risotto with about 5 minutes before it was ready. Serve immediately and garnish with fresh parsley.

Mushroom & gorgonzola risotto

The best risotto usually only has two key ingredients. Italian cooking is always simple and that’s why I love cooking it so much. This was my first time adding gorgonzola and it compliments the mushrooms nicely. The risotto also has a splash of thickened cream, another first ingredient for me. Topped with parsley and added parmesan if you like your risotto extra cheesy!

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Salmon, kale & feta frittata

Salmon and eggs go so well together. Usually for a cooked breakfast I will go out but this morning it was raining, miserable and my flatmate and her friend were terribly hungover and in need of food. The key to a frittata is to be patient. Simmer the eggs on the stove top and then transfer under the grill for a few minutes to brown the top. There are so many variations you can do for a frittata. Be inventive and try something different yourself. This one also had mushrooms. Substitute the salmon for salami, chorizo or remove all together and add beetroot or potatoes for vegetarians. Guaranteed to please hungover friends and family.

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Mixed meat stew

This stew is relatively quick to make compared to your normal slow-cooked dishes that can take hours. This one cooks in just over an hour and gives you a dish that is rich in flavour when your are time-poor. The stew itself is a mix of beef, pork and lamb, slowly simmered in homemade passata. Serve with polenta or have on its own with crusty bread.

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Fettucini…

This dish was inspired from a boscaiola dish my mum used to make when I was a kid. Tonight’s version is a simple combination of garlic, spring onions, mushrooms and pancetta and of a little bit of cream. Top with parsley, fresh parmesan and serve with red wine of course. An easy pasta dish to enjoy with close friends. Buon Appetito!

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Lentil bolognese

Yes this doesn’t sound right but it tastes delicious! You could use pre-soaked lentils to reduce the cooking time or just slow cook them for an hour or so. Either way, a nice variation of one of Italy’s most famous dish… and you can keep the vegetarians happy too.

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Pumpkin & asparagus risotto

This is my favourite risotto dish. The key to risotto is not olive oil but butter. I use a mix of both as too much butter will over power the pumpkin and asparagus. Be patient with risotto. Let it cook slowly, simmering away, as you enjoy a glass of wine. Another secret ingredient is adding a splash of balsamic vinegar. This dish has everything.. risotto, fresh vegetables, parmesan cheese, olive oil, butter and wine… Italian cooking doesn’t get better!

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