Italian food. I still have to meet the first person who doesn’t like it. And to be honest, I don’t think I will ever meet him or her, because it is simply physically and emotionally impossible not to be swept away by the real flavours of Italian cuisine.
Just so you know, when I’m talking about Italian food, I do not mean spaghetti Bolognese or spaghetti and meatballs.
Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with these two dishes- they are actually pretty yummy- but they are just not really Italian.
No, when I’m talking about Italian food, I’m talking about food that kicks you in the balls. Food that is so full of flavour, freshness and depth, it will take your breath away. Real, honest Italian food does not look dainty or pretty. It is gutsy and robust.
The bigger the plate, the better.
Now that is a cuisine I love.
As you all know, I like to do my own spin on classic dishes. So if you are a traditional Italian, who prefers his dishes the way la mamma used to make them, I strongly advise you to click away.
If not, let’s bring on some scrumptious Italian food de la casa de Eveline!
To make things even better, both dishes are completely vegetarian. But don’t let that scare you, (not so) dear meat eater! If you make these recipes, you will forget there even was such a thing as meat to begin with!
This was by far the best lasagna I had ever eaten. Grilled vegetables, punchy pesto and smooth béchamel. Eating a piece of this lasagna is like watching a brand new episode of Sherlock: so good it will give you heart palpitations.
Don’t say I haven’t warned you!
- Lasagna leaves, dried and ready-to-use
- 1 large courgette or 2 smaller ones, cut into 0,5cm slices
- 1 celery stick, finely chopped
- 1 carrot, finely chopped
- 1 red pepper, finely chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 200gr minced tofu or seitan or quorn
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 500ml passata
- 1 tbsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp chili flakes
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- 150gr homemade pesto
- 20gr butter
- 2 heaped tablespoons of flour
- 4dl milk
- 150gr parmesan cheese, grated (plus some extra to finish)
- Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease a square oven dish with butter.
- Make the tomato sauce. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the garlic, onion, spices and herbs for a couple of minutes. Add the vegetables (carrot, celery and pepper) and vegetarian mince and fry for another 3 minutes.
- Add the passata and balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Let is simmer for at least 15 minutes.
- Grill the courgette slices on a hot griddle pan. Set aside
- Make your béchamel sauce by melting the butter in a small sauce pan. Once melted, stir in the flour and whisk well. Gradually pour in the milk, while whisking vigorously. Stir the mixture until it starts to thicken and until there are no lumps left. Season with salt and pepper and stir in the grated parmesan.
- Assemble the lasagna. Start with a thin layer of tomato sauce. Now put a layer of lasagna leaves on top. Then a generous layer of tomato sauce- a layer of lasagna leaves- a layer of fresh pesto topped with courgette slices- a layer of lasagna leaves- layer of tomato sauce- layers of pesto and courgette-layer of lasagna leaves…. Repeat this process until you have used up all your tomato sauce, pesto and courgettes. Now finish with the scrummy béchamel and sprinkle a generous amount of parmesan on top.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes.
Mediterranean Mash with stuffed courgette spirals
This is truly the best of both worlds coming together on a plate of culinary brilliance. The mash is very macho. The courgette rolls are very ladylike. But together they form the perfect marriage. The fragrant mash is zinging with basil, chives and fresh cherry tomatoes. The bold courgette spirals are a celebration of heavenly cream cheese and rich sundried tomatoes. Jay-Z and Beyoncé? Brad and Angelina? These glamourous showbizz couples suddenly seem nothing more than a bag of chewy Cheetos in comparison to this dish.
- 750gr potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
- Lots and lots of fresh basil
- Approx. 3 tbsp fresh chives
- 300gr cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 250gr cream cheese
- 200gr sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 2 to 3 courgettes, cut lengthwise into 0,3cm slices
- Grill the courgette slices on a hot griddle pan.
- Mix the cream cheese with the sundried tomatoes.
- Spread the cream cheese mixture onto the courgette slices and roll them up into cute spirals. Put them in a preheated oven for 10 minutes at 180°C.
- Meanwhile, make your mash. Cook the potatoes until soft; drain. Mash the potatoes until you get a smooth mixture but do make sure it is not too smooth. (This mash is supposed to be butchy not drab.) You will probably have some leftover cream cheese mixture, so by all means put that in your mash. It will make it even more flavoursome. If your mash looks to dry, add a little splash of milk and some olive oil. Stir in the fresh herbs and the tomatoes. The heat of the mash will slightly soften the tomatoes. Ah, heavenly.