Tag Archives: Parmesan

Spaghetti with zucchini and baby spinach

This recipe of Adam Liaw’s that appeared in the paper a few weeks ago has become a regular one in the Napoli household. All that lovely green! The original recipe is here but I’ve made some minor tweaks. I’ve upped the quantities to make it a main course instead of an entree, and I’ve swapped some of the butter for olive oil as I found it a bit too buttery. I used a mandoline with the finest Julien setting for the zucchini. And I made it with wholemeal spaghetti which added to the flavour. You could probably also add some nuts to this, either toasted pine nuts, some slivered almonds or chopped pistachio. You could make this vegan by using all olive oil instead of butter and omitting the cheese.
Serves 4


40g butter
250g baby spinach
1 brown onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 medium/large zucchini, cut into matchsticks
salt for seasoning
500g Barilla wholemeal spaghetti
Grated parmesan cheese, to taste

Making it
1. Heat the butter in a pan over low heat, saute the spinach until wilted, season then transfer to a small food processor and puree until smooth

2. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large frypan, saute onion until softened, then add zucchini and toss for a few minutes until softened. Drain the spaghetti and add to the frypan, season then stir through the spinach puree an combine well so that all the spaghetti is well coated. Serve with parmesan cheese as desired.

Mamma Rosa’s rice balls (polpetti di riso)

Mamma Rosa rules supreme in the “rice ball” world, as we call them.  For as long as I can remember, a plate of steaming hot rice balls appears at any family get together for us all to snack on before the main event.  Countless times over the years she’s been asked to make them for parties of family friends and relatives too.

One Sunday I say to the Marito “I’m going to have a crack at making them myself”.  There is a sharp intake of breath – it is like I am committing a transgression, or heading into some seriously dangerous territory.  I use the recipe she scribed in my little book. I need about another twenty years practice to get them like hers, but I’ll get there.  These are best if you cook the rice a day ahead of making them.

500g long grain rice
200g grated Parmeggiano
5 eggs, lightly beaten
Finely chopped parsley, to taste
Oil for frying

Making them
1. Cook the rice in a large pot of well salted water. Once cooked, let strain for at least an hour then put the rice in  a large bowl. If you are making them on the day, wait till the rice is completely cooled, otherwise put the rice in the fridge for assembly the next day.

2. To the rice, add the eggs, cheese, parsley and season.  Combine well with your hands.  Once combined, start shaping the mixture into rissoles then roll in breadcrumbs to coat. Once formed, put them in the fridge for at least an hour before cooking.


Here are my uneven, awkward, and slightly too big ones


Here are Mamma Rosas petite uniform ones


3. Heat the oil in a heavy based frypan and fry gently until golden. Serve hot.


Roman Semolina Gnocchi

I’m not sure if these originated in Rome, but what distinguishes them from traditional gnocchi is that they do not contain potato, but semolina.  I usually serve this as a side dish – it is easy and really delicious.  It is vital that you get the seasoning right, otherwise it is bland.  You’ll see recipes with varying quantities of butter, cheese, or milk, but the core ingredients are always the same. I’ve also seen these served with a mushroom fricassee on top, or with a plain Napolitano tomato sauce.

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300g fine semolina
1 litre milk
100g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
pinch of nutmeg
salt and pepper
3 egg yolks
100g grated Parmesan

Making it
1. In a pot on medium heat, place the milk, nutmeg, some ground pepper and pinch of salt. Bring it to the boil, reduce heat, then add the semolina in a stream, whisking constantly or it will get lumpy. It will thicken pretty much immediately. Continue to whisk for a few minutes them remove from heat.
2. After a couple of minutes, add about half the cheese and the butter and stir thoroughly with a wooden spoon. At this point taste for seasoning, and add more salt if required. Add the egg yolks and stir thoroughly.
3. Line a baking tray with baking paper and smooth out the semolina in an even layer. Allow to cool.
4. Using a round cutter (4-5cm) cut into discs. Grease a baking dish with butter, layer the discs and top with remaining parmesan. If you are preparing this ahead, you can cover the dish with cling wrap and put it in the fridge at this point until ready to cook. Otherwise put it in a 200 degree oven for about 20 minutes till a little golden and serve.