Tuesday 31 March 2015

14–Carluccio & Contaldo–Two Greedy Italians–Cooking the Books

two greedy italians 

Starter:   Testaroli with Pesto 

Main:      Merluzzo in Crosta (cod with tomato crust) 

Dessert:  Lemon Granita

Whilst trying to find seem thing different in my recipe books this week, it appears I have far more than my fair share of Italian based ideas. One of these is from the Two Greedy Italians. Otherwise known as Gennaro Contaldo, Jamie's friend and mentor, and Antonio Carluccio. With the things I had in the fridge and the standard store cupboard staples, I found myself rather limited for choice this week. Rather than a starter, I've gone for a 'primo' plate, often a pasta plate or more substantial starter.

Starter: Testaroli con Pesto

Easiness: 8/10, especially if you already have pesto

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 4/10 – if you’ve got pasta, you may as well use that instead.

Cheats & Changes: none

This testaroli is a dish often made by the poorer Italian from the Lunigiana region, and it combines only water, flour and salt and ends up more like a pancake batter than a pasta as such. Let's call it a cross between gnocchi, pasta and pancakes. And since it's meant to be served with a plain and simple sauce, I did as suggested and used pesto, the same I used for Jamie's white risotto, as one jar goes a long way!

Sieve a pinch of salt and 350g plain flour. Whisk in 300 ml water little by little, then add 2 tbs olive oil. In a hot, greased pan, fry these in pancake type rounds, then slice. Pop into a pot of boiling, salted water until they rise to the top. Pour your chosen flavour over the top and serve sprinkled with a little cheese.

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If you have pasta to hand, you’d be as well using that, but this did serve as a quick alternative if the cupboard is bare.

Main: Merluzzo in Crosta

Easiness: 7/10

Taste: 8/10

Make again: 8/10

Cheats & Changes: none

The main is a simple cod which I'll serve with potato dauphinois and a green salad: merluzzo in crosta. You combine stale bread, sundried tomatoes, black olives and salt and pepper in a processor until it all resembles breadcrumbs. Splash a little white wine and olive oil over the cod fillets and bake at 150 for five minutes. Then add the topping and bake again for ten mins or until the fish is just cooked through. Serve with greens and whatever else you'd like.


This was a lovely spring / summer dish and had a fresh, healthy feel to it for once, especially after all those rich stews. It was really lovely and one I’ll definitely make again.

Dessert: Lemon Granita

Easiness: 8/10

Taste:10 /10

Make again: 10/10

Cheats & Changes: none


Dessert is more of a palette cleanser served in between courses but you can always serve it as a light, fresh dessert: lemon granita. Add half a litre of water and 300g sugar to the pan and heat until it's beginning to turn syrupy, about ten minutes. Remove from heat and stir in half a litre of strained lemon juice, about 6-8 lemons, then leave for at least half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add the grated zest of one lemon and stir again. Tip into a plastic tub and freeze, every half an hour, remove and mix with a fork to break up the ice crystals. Now, this is where you need to have planned ahead and made sure you'll be at home for a few hours as this should be done over the cruise of about four hours, every thirty minutes! Once finished, you can leave it in the freezer until ready to serve.

This was really, really nice. Much more so than expected. It gave an instant hit of sugar, so much so that you thought it was going to be too sweet. Then the sour zest hit you and the sweetness was replaced. You were left with a refreshed feeling! I’ll make this again for a quick between-courses refresher, but maybe use a little less sugar.

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Merlotti x

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