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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Panzanella

I love this recipe with all its freshness. The secret for a perfect result is the quality of the ingredients you will use: you don’t need many so make sure they are excellent. This is perfect for a spring pic-nic or it can also be an idea for your Easter vegetarian meal.

What you need:

  • ciabatta bread (250g)
  • 6 skimmed tomatoes (500g)
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 25 g of capers
  • extra virgin olive oil (as needed)
  • basil Leaves (as desired)

Optional:

  • anchovies fillets
  • 1 cucumber

How to make it:
Cut the bread in small pieces and place them in a lined baking tray. Grill the bred until lightly browned and cut into chunks (to make it quicker you can use sliced bread and use a toaster; the flavour won’t be the same but it will work well)Cut into chunks). Drizzle with olive oil.
Chop the tomatoes, slice the onion (and if you want the cucumber!), then place them in a serving bowl.
Add the bread to the veggies and mix well with some extra virgin olive oil. At this stage you can add the basil, the capers and the anchovies, if you decide to use them.

Panzanella

TIP: you can prepare a small dressing with a garlic clove, extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. For more taste you can prepare a small cup with the olive oil and let the garlic clove infuse all night.

Tuna and potatoes croquettes: the healthy ones!

This is perfect for your summer lunches/dinners and also if you have kids over: it’s quick, tasty and funny. Usually croquettes are very deep fried but today I want to suggest a lighter option: I hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

  • 200g potatoes;
  • 240g tuna;
  • 50g  breadcrumbs;
  • extra virgin olive oil;
  • 2 egg;
  • fresh parsley;

How to make it:

Peel and boil the potatoes until tender. Let them cool down and then mash them with a fork until you obtain a nice potato purée. Add the tuna, one egg, the olive oil and the parsley and mix well together. If you prefer you can use a food processor (as I did) so it is faster. Adjust of salt and pepper.

When your mixture is ready for the balls from it; you can try different shapes to add some fun to your dish. Place onto a lined oven tray and set them aside.

Prepare 2 shallows bowls: one with the beaten egg and the other with the other half of the breadcrumbs. Dip each croquette into the egg and then roll it into the breadcrumb: this step will guarantee a golden appearance and a crispy taste!

Cook the croquettes in a pre-heated oven for around 15 minutes or until golden.

 

Tips to improve your dish:

  • If you are not on a diet you can deep fry your croquettes;
  • You can use cornflake crumbs or flour to coat the croquettes instead of the breadcrumbs;
  • Make sure you don’t over boil the potatoes;
  • Instead of the parsley you can use fresh mint or use the 2 herbs together;
  • Don’t forget to serve them with some fresh veggies.

Tortilla de patatas

From Spain with love! The tortilla de patatas (omlette with potatoes) is a very easy recipe to prepare and it’s perfect for your lunch box or for a pic nic.

 What you need:

  •  4 eggs;
  • 3 large potatoes;
  • salt;
  • 1 small onion;

How to make it:

Wash and peel the potatoes, cut them in small, irregulars pieces (if you prefer you can slice them). Heat some olive oil on a fry pan and when it is very hot add the potatoes. Keep cooking until golden-brown. Remove the pan from the heat, drain the oil and set the potatoes aside.

Beat the eggs togheter, add the salt and slice the onion. Cook the onion for few minutes in the same fry pan until tender, add the potatoes and as last ingredient add the eggs.

Cook the tortilla initially on a high heat and after few minutes decrease the temperature. Cook for additional 2 minutes.

 Now the hard part: you need to turn your tortilla. You can do it by using a plate as the top of the dish is still too liquid to turn it in the pan. Cover the fry pan with a plate. Quickly rotate the pan on the plate (basically you want to transfer the tortilla in the plate) and then put the tortilla back on the pan.

 Cook the other side of the tortilla for additional 5 minutes or until firm. You can turn the tortilla again if you wish a perfect finish.

TIP: if you like you can also add some parsley to the eggs. This is not part of the original recipe but it gives the dish an extraordinary taste.