Fusilli with green beans, fresh tomatoes and red pepper

Feeds 4 people

150g green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
1 red onion, sliced very finely
1 red pepper, sliced ditto into 2cm lengths
6 ripe (over-ripe tomatoes even better) sliced as above, skin and all, but removing the white bit in the middle
2 cloves of garlic sliced very finely – not minced
Pepper & salt
50g grated parmesan
250g fusilli


Bra, Italy 31st October, 2013

Here are some of the things I bought from a vegetable store near where I am staying in Bra. They cost me 15 euros – including that big bottle of olive oil.

Have all the above ready.

In a big frying pan and over a high heat, fry the onion and pepper in a splash of olive oil until almost brown but with the peppers still a little crunchy. Add the garlic and cook until just brown. Add the tomatoes and cook for a minute longer. Season with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, cook the green beans until they are soft, not al dente, in just enough salted boiling water (1/2 tspn) to cover the beans. Drain, but reserve the water in the pan and add enough more water to the pan to cook the pasta. Bring this water to boil. Cook the pasta in the normal way. Drain.

Add the beans and pasta to the tomatoes and peppers along with a good 4 tablespoons of olive oil, mix well, transfer to 4 bowls. Be generous with the parmesan & black pepper. You can afford to. This dish for four people cost 6.70 Euros

It took me 15 minutes of real time cooking. I think it would take a student at Square Food Foundation maybe 30.

And they would be very very happy.

So would Nigel Slater.

And so would Ferran Adria, who cooked my lunch today at the University canteen. But that’s another story.

Braised Radicchio with Walnuts

Via XX1V Aprile 9, Bra, Italy 5th November

I have just come back from a weekend in the Veneto staying with my cousin. It is the season for radicchio there – and all over Northern Italy. But the ones I bought in the market in Montebelluno (between Verona & Treviso) are grown like forced rhubarb, their stems fleshy and curling inwards like the fronds of young bracken.


The dish I have just made here in Bra used the variety commonly found in the UK and works just as well, though perhaps lacks the particular earthy bitter-sweetness of the Treviso variety. The walnuts came from the market here in Bra.

1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 radicchio, sliced into thin wedges
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
A squidge of lemon
Olive oil
4 or 5 fresh walnuts

Brown the garlic briefly in a splash of olive oil, add the sliced radicchio, mix well, add the vinegar, a little salt & pepper, cover, leave to simmer for about 3 minutes, transfer to a serving dish. Crack open the walnuts, break the kernels into pieces and scatter over the radicchio. Add a squeeze of lemon & a drizzle of olive oil. Serve at room temperature with a soft sheep’s cheese (a young pecorino maybe?) or a couple of grilled lamp chops. I had it for breakfast with bread. Perfectly delicious.

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