The next stop on my ‘Jamie Does…’ culinary tour was Italy. I have cooked a few Italian dishes from some of Jamie Oliver’s other books but so far I have only made the Tiramisu recipe from this one. I love Italian food and generally my Italian cooking involves very traditional and well known dishes like pasta and pizza. I make pasta once a week and I try to make something different each time to keep it fresh and interesting but we do have our favourites like lasagne (my husband’s) or pasta with meatballs (my son’s). I enjoy making pasta sauce from scratch and we prefer it to be a little more arrabbiata than pomodoro in our house so I tend to add dried chilli flakes or hot chilli peppers. I also find using fresh egg pasta is tastier than dried. And of course pasta isn’t pasta without fresh parmesan cheese, a staple in my refrigerator. Then there’s pizza. If I am having a lazy cooking day, I tend to throw together a pizza based on Jamie’s homemade pizza recipe in his ’30 Minute Meals’ cookbook.
But Italian food is so much more than just pizza and pasta, even if they are both so delicious. In ‘Jamie Does…’ Italy, he focuses on Venice and makes salads, risottos, minestrone, beef, fish stew, spaghetti and tiramisu. In his introduction to Venetian food he talks about cooking risotto, which is a dish for which Venice is famous. His risotto recipe is from one of the best risotto cooks in all of Italy. I have always loved risotto but I have only cooked it a couple of times so I decided to give his Risotto Bianco a try and see if I could make the best risotto I’ve ever had. He provides three options to flavour the basic risotto with and I decided to go for pea and herb. I paired my main course with a tomato and basil salad to start as well as Italian wine and beer to drink.
Tomato & Basil Salad
This is a very simple and straightforward recipe but I was short on time and chose to make it even easier. I skipped bashing the basil into a pulp to make a pesto dressing and instead lay it on top of the tomato slices. I also supplemented buffalo mozzarella in place of feta. Then I drizzled it all with a little olive oil and some black pepper. It was simple but delicious.
Risotto Bianco with Pea & Herb
This risotto was absolutely delicious. It turned out perfectly oozy and full of flavour. I really enjoyed cooking the risotto probably because it involved standing over a pot and stirring with an open bottle of wine on hand. Recipes that call for wine always mean I end up getting to enjoy a glass while I cook. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time in the kitchen. My husband and I both absolutely loved this dish. He’s not a big fan of risotto but I am slowly converting him.