It’s hard to remember a time when Italian food wasn’t a supermarket staple. Yet the truth is those deep-dish, filled-crust concoctions you find in the freezer aisle are about as far removed from traditional Italian fare as you can get. The Mediterranean cuisine focuses on simple recipes, using natural ingredients. It’s all about quality, not quantity, and you’ll find that some dishes have as few as three components. To recreate the style at home, use fresh first-rate produce and serve alongside a good Italian wine – we recommend Chianti (red) or Soave (white) – perfect for a summer’s evening.
Makes two pizzas
For the dough
For the topping
- 300g tinned plumtomatoes
- Salt and black pepper
- 4tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 30g/1oz parmesancheese
- 6 fresh basil leaves
- 140g/5oz mozzarella, roughly chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Preheat the oven to 250C/Gas Mark 9/500F
- Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast to the lukewarm water and wait for it to dissolve before adding it into the flour mixture. Combine all of the ingredients to make dough. If the dough is a little sticky, add more flour.
- Shape the dough into a ball, cover with a damp cloth, and then leave to rest for 5 minutes. After this short wait, the dough will be far easier to work with. Split the ball in half, then knead each piece for a couple of minutes, shaping back into balls again. Put the dough back underneath the damp cloth and this time leave it for 30 minutes.
- Place the tomatoes into a bowl and break them up slightly with a wooden spoon. Season the mixture with salt and pepper.
- Put flour onto the worktop and shape your two balls of dough into the pizza bases. You want to make sure the dough is pancake thin, and create a border around the circles. Place the pizza bases onto a baking sheet or pizza stone.
- Carefully spread a little of the tomato mixture over the two pizzas. You don’t want to add too much or the pizza will become soggy. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, then add the basil leaves and mozzarella.
- Bake in the pre-heated oven for 7 minutes. After removing the pizzas, drizzle with more olive oil. Bellissimo!
Three-Ingredient Pasta Sauce
- 2 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
- 2 white onions, halved and peeled
- 5tbsp of unsalted butter
- Pinch of salt
- 400g pasta
- Black pepper
- Parmesan cheese
- Place the halved onions cut-side down in a large saucepan. Pour the tomatoes over the top and throw in the butter. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for around 45 minutes, stirring occasionally to blend in the butter and break up the tomatoes.
- Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the packet. Drain and return to the pan.
- Add salt to the mixture according to taste. Pour the sauce over the pasta and mix together well.
- Spoon into bowls and serve with pepper and parmesan. At this point, you may choose to remove the onions as they will by now have given the sauce their flavour.
- 3 cups of strong black liquid coffee, chilled (preferably Italian espresso)
- 3tbsp caster sugar
- 6tbsp Amaretto
- 2 eggs, separated
- 250g/9oz mascarpone
- 250g/9oz whipped cream
- Cocoa powder
- 1 packet of sponge fingers
- Mix half the Amaretto in with the cold coffee and set aside.
- Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a separate bowl for about three minutes, until the mixture turns thick and pale.
- Add the mascarpone into the mixture and continue beating until well mixed. Using a metal spoon, gently fold in the whipped cream.
- In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites together until they form soft peaks. Then fold the whites, quickly but gently, into the cream mixture. Add the rest of the Amaretto gently, taking care not to flatten the mixture.
- Dip each sponge finger into the coffee mixture for around two seconds on each side. Shake off any excess.
- Use the sponge fingers to cover the bottom of your dessert dish, then add a layer of cream on top. Repeat the process again, using up the biscuits and finishing with a cream layer.
- Smooth down the surface and dust with cocoa powder.
- Refrigerate for at least two hours until the mixture is firm. The flavours will develop more the longer you leave the mixture.
Feel like sampling some authentic Italian food? Book your trip to Italy now…