This year is about taking my interest in Italian food to the next level. I am quietly committing myself to the exploration of the regions and lesser-known dishes. To me, there is no better excuse to do this than when hosting, where you can try something a little more elaborate than midweek pasta or splash out a bit more on ingredients.
This creates a nice balance for me. Hosting rules alla Alison Roman stipulate that you don’t try anything too elaborate (which Italian food happens to suit) but having friends round pushes me to try one or two different dishes. Now, this still never strays too far from my comfort zone, instead, it usually just means extra prep time or overnight soaking. Borlotti beans or homemade bread for example.
This weekend, my beautiful (Italian) best friend came to my new house for the first time and this was the perfect opportunity to put my new commitment into practice. I kept it very simple and familiar because I was cooking for an Italian.
The menu was a combination of Jamie Oliver’s first Italy book and Alison Roman’s focaccia recipe:
15th January 2020
Italian baked mushrooms with scamorza
Braised Italian greens (chard, cime de rapa and spinach)
Creamy polenta with basil and garlic butter
Marinated aubergine with chilli and lemon
Rosemary and red onion focaccia
Italian biscuits and After Eight mints