Spending time with our family and friends has never felt so important—and so often this means cooking for the ones you love.
Who better to take inspiration from than Pasta Grannies who have spent their lifetimes plating up comfort and connection? Vicky Bennison, the author of the bestselling Pasta Grannies cookbook, brings more heart-warming recipes and stories from our favourite Italian grandmothers in this easy-to-follow, crowd-pleasing recipe book shows you how to make authentic Italian food that everyone will enjoy.
Discover 91-year-old Pina’s chestnut gnocchi with walnut pesto, lovingly made with ingredients she grows around her home in Liguria; or 99-year-old Marietta’s special tagliatelle recipe, which is not really a recipe at all but a reflection of her vegetable garden, the Calabrian countryside and the changing seasons. As well as meat, seafood and vegetable pasta recipes, chapters cover pizzas, pastries and pies, rice and pulses, dairy and herbs, nuts and spices.
Every recipe is accompanied with a QR code which, once scanned, will take you directly to the YouTube videos of these remarkable women and their recipes. Complete with stunning location and recipe photography throughout, with a clear guide to pasta making by hand, Pasta Grannies: Comfort Cooking is not only a celebration of cooking and feasting together, it is an insight into their lives, and a joyous slice of the Italian way of life.
Roman Stuffed Tomatoes
Baked rice-filled tomatoes are a classic summer dish in Rome, prepared in the cooler hours and then eaten, at room temperature, later in the day. These tomatoes are usually baked
with potato wedges, but Anna likes to add peppers to the mix too, so cooks them in a separate pan.
In Rome’s greengrocers, you’ll find tomatoes labelled as suitable for this dish. It isn’t simply a question of ‘ripeness’, they have also got to be flavoursome. If you are in any doubt about whether your tomatoes are flavoursome enough, you should hesitate to do this dish; but if you still want to try it, stir in a couple of tablespoons of grated pecorino or Parmigiano just before you divide the rice mixture between the tomatoes.
PREP 1–2 hours SERVINGS 4
4 large ripe tomatoes
200 g (7 oz) risotto rice such as Arborio
16 basil leaves
olive oil, for seasoning and drizzling
4 small garlic cloves salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 175°C (325°F/gas 3).
Cut the tops off the tomatoes (keep the tops as they will be the lid) and scoop out the flesh. A food mill is a useful gadget here: plop the pulp onto the plate and crush the contents into a bowl. This removes the pips and hard bits that can form near the stalk. Or run the tomatoes through a fine sieve with a wooden spoon (less fun than using a mill). Shred the basil leaves finely and stir these into the juice with a scant teaspoon of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Taste it; the rice is going to absorb and knock back the flavour, so you want it to be properly seasoned.
Anna’s method is to soak the rice in this mixture for at least 1 hour before spooning it into the tomato shells, but I have found my rice doesn’t cook very evenly when I do this, so I cheat and simmer the tomato-rice mix in a pan for 6 minutes and let it cool a little before I distribute it evenly among the 4 tomato shells, making sure not to overfill any of them.
Tuck a small garlic clove into each tomato and top with the lid. Place them in a baking dish and drizzle everything with olive oil.
Bake in the oven for 50–60 minutes.
Remove from the oven and once they are cool, remove the garlic cloves. Served warm or at room temperature; they taste even better if you can let them sit overnight.
Recipe reprinted with permission from Hardie Grant Books.