Mediterranean Pasta Salad

The perfect dish for those summer BBQ’s or outside lunches or pic nics! The secret for a perfect pasta salad is cook the pasta few minutes less than the cooking time. Pasta keeps cooking after it has been drained so if you wish a nice and crunchy pasta you need to drain it before it is fully cooked. Another advise I feel to give is to use best quality ingredients. This is an extremely simple recipe for pasta so it is important you use the best of the best: fresh and ripe tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh prawns and good quality black olives. Last but not least use a good brand of pasta: they are not all the same!

 

What you need :

  • 320 g pasta
  • 3 medium ripe tomatoes
  • 200 g prawns
  • 50 g dried black olives
  • 1 small shallot
  • basil leaves
  • extra virgin olive oil

How to make it:

Cook the pasta as instructed in the package and remember to drain it 3 minutes before the cooking time. Place the pasta in bowl, season with some extra virgin olive oil and leave it aside. While the pasta is cooling down prepare the sauce.

Heat a tbsp of olive oil in a pan, slice the shallots and cook them  until brown. Add the prawns and cook for 2 minutes or until tender. Remove the pan from the heat and let the prawns cool down.

Chop the tomatoes, remove the seeds and the liquid and put them in antoher bowl. Season them with some sea salt and extra virigin olive oil: I like to toss the tomatoes with my hands in this case.

At this stage toss all the ingredients together: the pasta, the tomatoes and the prawns in a serving bowl. Add the black olives and the fresh basil,

Cover with some film and refrigerate the pasta for 1 hour: remove from the fridge 15 mins before serving.

Some tips:

  • if you over cook the pasta you can stop the cooking process by rinsing the pasta with fresh water (under the tap while draining it);
  • feel free to add some chillies at the end to give it a more spicy taste;
  • I do not recommend to add parmesan cheese (or any kind of cheese here) as it will cover the taste of the prawns.

 

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Naked fancies

I received an amazing recipes book about naked cakes (“naked cakes” by Hannah Miles) so I decided to try one called Naked fancies: I hope you enjoy this super natural recipe. I believe if you have a bit of practice this can be used for Weddings, b-days and any other occasion you have to celebrate.

What you need:

  • 115 g butter, softened
  • 115 g sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g self-raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
  • 4o ml rose or violet liqueur

For the buttercream:

  • 300 g icing sugar
  • 30 g softened butter
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the glaze:

  • 280 g icing sugar
  • 50 ml rose or violet liqueur

How to make it
Mix the butter and the sugar with an electric whisk. Add the eggs to the mixture and continue to whisk. Sift in the flour and the baking powder, add the sour cream and work all the ingredients until incorporated.

Spoon the cake batter into a cake pan and bake for 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven (180°C). Once the caked is ready let it cool down and start preparing the icing.

Mix the icing sugar and the butter adding little milk if the mixture is too stiff.

Cut the cake in half horizzontaly, drizzle in some liqueur (the original recipe says violet liqueur: I used rose liqueur) and spread a layer of buttercream. Top the cake with the second half of the cake and let refrigerate for 2 hours.

Cut the cake in 16 mini cakes.

Make the glaze by heating the icing sugar in a saucepan with some liqueur and about 100 ml water until you obtain a translucent liquid. Spoon the icing over the cakes and decorate with some edible flower or anything your fantasy suggests.

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