Antonio Carluccio’s Insalata all’Abruzzese (Vegetable and Tuna Salad)

Serves: 4

This salad is a triumph of flavours: the combination of cooked and raw vegetables, the tuna, the whole thing.

(Yes, it is a summer salad and we had it in the tail of winter, though the sun was out and we had some good Italian wines to try.)

With a bit of toasted bread, this is a meal on its own.

Though next time I serve this, I hope it is part of a long Italian feast welcoming our family and friends back into our home.

That’s when the really good Italian whites and reds are coming out.

Bookmark this one. It is beautiful. And lockdown will end one way or the other!

Ingredients

300gm young zucchinis (around 4 small)
200gm green beans, trimmed (about a big handful)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
200gm tomatoes (around 2 tomatoes)
1 red pepper
1 red onion
150gm good canned tuna in oil, drained
8 anchovy fillets in oil, drained
8 basil leaves, torn
1 tsp dried oregano
1 – 3 red chillies, chopped
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine vinegar

Method

  1. Quarter the zucchinis lengthways, then cut into chunks. Cook the beans until al dente, drain and cool. Repeat with the zucchinis.
  2. Cut the tomatoes into wedges and remove the seeds. Halve, core and deseed the pepper, then cut into long, thin strips. Finely slice the red onion.
  3. Put the zucchinis, beans, tomatoes, red pepper and onion into a bowl. Break the tuna into little chunks and add to the salad with the anchovies, herbs and as much fresh chilli as you can take! Toss everything together, adding the olive oil, followed by the wine vinegar. Season and serve at room temperature.

Rodney Dunn’s Leaf Salad with Anchovy Salad Cream

Serves: 4

A few years ago – actually six by my count (!) – Nat and I did a Hobart (Australia) holiday.

It is a quiet city, though it is just lovely. Good food, quiet as I said, unassuming, a very organic feel to it. Shops closed on Sunday (bless), cold, as close to the Antarctic as one can reasonably get without driving to the bottom of the island.

The sometimes forgotten state of mainland Australia. (Though one of my brothers lives there, so slightly less forgotten!)

When we were there, we travelled an hour from Hobart to a a farm run by Rodney Dunn of the Agrarian Kitchen, which at least at the time, was the number one destination for foodies in Australia.

What a brilliant afternoon. We foraged in his garden and collected everything we needed to cook. He had a greenhouse with some of the more tropical ingredients, and animals further afield that were also part of the meal we cooked.

I’ve gone from a man making signature vinaigrette’s to this as my go-to. (It’s a Caesar just easier. And frankly better. )

I think wheat was the only thing – used in a dough for ravioli – that came offsite.

Anyway, the guy is a genius and so is this salad.

You will think so to.

Ingredients

100gm mixed baby salad greens
1 radicchio, washed, dried and coarsely torn
1 frisée, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch chives cut into 2cm lengths

Anchovy salad cream

6 anchovy fillets
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp double cream
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Method

  1. For anchovy salad cream, pound anchovies to a smooth paste in a mortar and pestle. Stir in remaining ingredients, season with freshly ground pepper and set aside.
  2. Combine all the salad ingredients in a bowl, drizzle with salad cream, toss to evenly coat leaves and…
  3. Enjoy!

Alison Roman’s Caramelised Shallot Pasta

Serves: 4

No question, one of the defining themes of Covid has been food.

Cooking it. Eating it. Enjoying it with half a case of wine.

And repeat.

During lockdown, we had the time on our hands to experiment in ways we had never done. Indeed, given we couldn’t eat out, Nat and I would regularly recreate some of the most wonderful restaurant meals we had previously had.

I remember one meal where Nat recreated the incredible lobster and four-cheese Macaroni and Cheese from the best steakhouse in Honolulu – Mortons – and wow, looking back – at 1,570 calories a serve – Covid really did give us cover to do things culinarily that we wouldn’t otherwise do for a Monday lunch!

Of course, in Australia, we have moved back to relative normality which made it interesting to read the most popular recipes cooked the past year according to the NYTimes: America truly being the the opposite of our normality.

Like so much of our Covid, it kicked off with pasta.

Pasta that takes half an afternoon to cook.

A pasta that can – should – be cooked in pyjamas.

And a pasta that is on a whole other level of amazing.

Two-hat Italian amazing.

Slow-cooked onions always deliver though this is your case-in-point. Do this early afternoon, reheat when friends come around and blow them away.

(Ensuring all the bottles are in the recycling bin and the pyjamas are swapped for something a bit more acceptable.)

Ingredients

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
6 large shallots, sliced very thinly
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp red-pepper flakes
1 can anchovy fillets (about 12 anchovies, drained though not rinsed)
170gm tomato paste
1 pack spaghetti

To serve
Good handful of parsley chopped
Grated Parmesan
Flaky salt

Method

  1. Open a good Pinot. It is a must.
  2. Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over a low heat. Add the shallots and garlic, season and cook, stirring occasionally, until the shallots have become caramelised with golden-brown fried edges. The slower you can cook them, the better, though they will get there.
  3. Cook your pasta, remembering to reserve some pasta water: this is important.
  4. Add red-pepper flakes and anchovies drained straight from the can; there is no need to chop them as they will dissolve when cooked. Stir for two minutes.
  5. Add the tomato paste and season again. Cook, stirring constantly to prevent scorching, until the tomato paste has started to cook in the oil, caramelising at the edges and turning from bright red to a deeper, rusty brick colour: 2 or so minutes.
  6. Add the cooked pasta to the sauce pot and slowly start to pour some of the pasta water, combining the pasta with the sauce. Add small amounts of water at a time until the pasta is all coated. Add a little more for when the pasta and sauce cool.
  7. Plate your pasta and top with Parmesan, flaky salt and fresh parsley.

Abbacchio Alla Romana (Roman Roast Lamb)

Serves: 4

A leg of lamb together with anchovies was a revelation to me quite some years ago when I cooked a Matt Evans dish where the lamb was liberally smothered in garlic and anchovies.

And so you have this recipe, where you really can make a ding on the otherwise great – though boring – leg of lamb.

I’d do it on the BBQ next time because chargrilled lamb is just so wonderful, though I wouldn’t change the paste. Or the anchovies.

Serve with some roast potato wedges and maybe some beans, tossed with butter, Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Live the lamb life.

Ingredients

1 x 2.5kg lamb leg, bone in
¼ cup rosemary leaves

¼ cup sage leaves
8 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
4 anchovies in oil, drained
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 cup dry white wine
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Method

  1. Using a sharp knife, make deep cuts into the lamb leg, 3cm apart. Cut almost to the bone and set aside.
  2. Combine herbs, garlic and 1 tsp salt in a mortar and pestle and grind to a fine paste. Add the anchovies, grind into a paste and then stir in the vinegar and remaining oil.
  3. Place the lamb in a large bowl and rub the paste over the lamb, pushing as much into the incisions as possible. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  4. Preheat the oven to 220c. Remove the lamb from the refrigerator 1 hour prior to cooking. Place the lamb in a deep roasting pan, pour in the wine, drizzle with extra oil and season with pepper.
  5. Roast for 20 minutes and then reduce the heat to 180c and cook for 1 hour for medium or until your liking.
  6. Set aside to reset, loosely covered in foil, for 20 minutes.
  7. Slice and enjoy!

Bistecca alla Fiorentina with Salsa Dragoncello (Steak Florentine with Tarragon Sauce)

Serves: 2

I am a big fan of dressing up steak and we generally have at least one steak butter on hand for a moorish dinner of steak and potatoes. (You simply cannot go past Café de Paris butter if you are new to it all!)

This recipe is a step up and really is the center of a wonderful meal.

Any number of sides you could serve from chargrilled asparagus with chilli and toasted sesame seeds, a potato gratin, a green salad or all of the above.

However you do it, this will get Saturday lunch talking and kick off an afternoon of wine, laughter and promises you’ll never keep.

I can’t wait.

Ingredients

1kg piece porterhouse steak on the bone (T-bone with loin attached)*
⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil (with extra to brush)
1 tbsp each chopped thyme and rosemary
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Salsa dragoncello
6 hard-boiled eggs
2 slices day-old ciabatta or sourdough, crust removed, torn into 2cm pieces (makes 1 cup)
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp chopped tarragon leaves
6 anchovy fillet, chopped
1 ½ tbsp baby capers, chopped
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Method

  1. Heat your grill on a high heat.
  2. For the salsa: Halves the eggs and scoop out the yolks (you don’t need the whites for the dish). Place the yolks in a bowl and mash with a fork.
  3. Place the bread in a separate bowl with the red wine vinegar and 2 tbsp of warm water. Mash together until the liquid has been absorbed. Add the egg yolks, tarragon, anchovy, capers and oil and stir to combine. Set aside.
  4. For the steak: Brush the steak with the extra oil and season with salt. Reduce the the heat of the grill to medium-high and then cook steak for 15 minutes each side for medium rare. (If using an alternative cut, cook until medium rare.)
  5. Whilst cooking, place thyme, rosemary, garlic and olive oil in a shallow dish with freshly ground pepper and a couple pinches of salt. Place the cooked steak in the dish, cover with foil and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes, turning once.
  6. To serve, cut steak away from the bone on either side, then slice the fillets. Spoon some of the salsa on top and serve with a drizzle of the resting juices.

 

*Ask your butcher ahead of time for this.

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Pollo alla Cacciatora

Serves: 4.

I had completely forgotten how good Chicken Cacciatora was until I did this number.

What a fool!

Seriously, this is so good. The richness, the warmth, the depth of flavour. And so easy.

This is a Jamie Oliver version and served with some Italian potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts, it was just glorious.

And served on some toast the next morning for breakfast?

You would have a queue at your cafe if you simply did that. Genius.

I substituted chicken thigh for the whole chicken simply to make things easier; if we were entertaining, the whole chicken would have been the go.

Either way, do this old-fashioned Italian dish and you’ll be a hero.

Ingredients

1 x 2kg chicken, jointed (or 1kg of chicken thigh)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 clove of garlic peeled (1 crushed, 2 sliced)
½ bottle of Chianti (the other ½ is for you, my friend)
Flour, for dusting
Extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy fillets
A handful of green or black olives, stoned
2 x 400gm tins of tomatoes

Method

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and put them in a bowl. Add the bay leaves, rosemary sprigs and the crushed clove of garlic and cover with the wine. Leave to marinate for at least an hour and preferably overnight in the fridge.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180c. Drain the chicken reserving the marinade and pat the chicken dry with paper towel. Dust the chicken with flour and shake off any excess; especially important if you are using thigh meat only.
  3. Heat a large saucepan, add a good splash of olive oil, fry the chicken pieces until browned lightly all over and set aside.
  4. Place the pan back on the heat and add the sliced garlic. Gently fry until golden brown and then add the anchovies, olives, tomatoes and chicken pieces together with the reserved marinade. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 1 ½ hours.
  5. Skim any oil that has collected at the top of the sauce, remove the bay leaves and rosemary stalks, season and serve.

Maurice Brun’s Tapenade

Serves: 8 snacking adults

I found this recipe in Patricia Well’s wonderful ‘Bistro Cooking’; French recipes from small family restaurants across France.

I am going to work my way through some of the fabulous sounding seafood recipes in the next few weeks: ‘L’Ami Louis’s scallops with Garlic, Tomatoes, Basil and Thyme’, ‘Chez Geraud’s Giant Shrimp Grilled with Brittany Sea Salt’, ‘Mussels with Tomatoes, Garlic, Olive Oil and Wine’, ‘Roasted Salmon with Olive Oil’ and ‘Arrantzaleak’s Grilled Tuna with Garlic and Sauce Piperade’, a sauce pf tomatoes, onions and chilis. 

My heart is at 130BPM just think about it!

Anyway, this is a fabulous tapenade I made as part of a bigger plate of dips, spreads and breads.

The rum (versus the traditional cognac) adds a faint, sweet flavour and on some oiled and toasted Turkish bread?

There’s your boy.

Ingredients

2 tbsp drained capers
4 anchovy fillets
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tbsp rum
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 c (250gm) black olives, pitted

Method

  1. Combine the capers, anchovies, thyme, rum and oil in a food processor and process until just blended. Add the olives and pulse on/off about 10 times until the mixture is fairl coarse though well combined.
  2. Transfer to a bowl and serve.