I’m not really fond of cooking. Don’t get me wrong, nobody likes eating more than I do! I just hate the preparation process. And being an Italian abroad doesn’t really help, as people usually have high expectations of my cooking skills.
For this reason, during the past couple of years, I have collected a few traditional and easy-peasy recipes that are perfect for a lazy person like me, who sometimes feels the pressure to fulfil a certain national stereotype.
Bruschette (pronounced [bruskette])
- Sliced bread
- 1 or 2 cloves of garlic
- Oil, salt and basil
Given the fact that this is an easy and quick-to-prepare appetizer, I do not find it necessary to specify the quantities. Just go with the flow.
Toast the bread. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes, finely chop the garlic; add oil, salt and basil and mix everything in a bowl. Spread on the toast.
Only now, while writing down the recipe, I realise how incredibly simple this is. If I can do it, so can you!
Spaghetti alla carbonara
Ingredients (4 portions):
- 350-400grams spaghetti
- 150grams non-smoked pig’s cheek bacon (in Italian: guanciale) – just to be meticulous, this is what the original recipe requires. However, it might be a bit hard to find it outside Italy. In this case, you can either use smoked steamed pancetta or usual bacon (but don’t say it to any Italian chef – they’ll probably be horrified as the “real” carbonara is made with “real” guanciale. Oh, whatever…)
- 100grams sheep’s milk cheese (in Italian: pecorino) – this might be hard and expensive to find it outside Italy. If this is the case, use Parmesan cheese instead (and again, don’t mention it to any Italian chef…!).
- 5 eggs – the trick for the amount is very simple: one egg for each portion, plus one for the pot. In this case, cooking for a party of 4, you will need 5 eggs: 4 people + 1 pot, high-level calculation!
- Black pepper
End of the ingredients. That’s it, nothing more. No onions and, for my grandma’s sake, no cream! Grazie.
While cooking the pasta in abundant, salted water, cut the guanciale into cubes and fry it in a pan until crispy (there is no need to add oil or butter as it will cook in its own fat – mmm, greasy!).
In a bowl whip 4 egg yolks and 1 whole egg, add cheese and pepper, and finally add the fried guanciale.
Once the pasta is ready, put it in the bowl and mix with the egg-cheese-pepper mixture. And here is the essential part that usually, in my personal experience, disgust non-Italians: the eggs must not be cooked! Yes, we eat raw eggs in Italy, so what?!
NB: this dessert should be prepared the day before being served and kept in the fridge.
- 250 grams mascarpone
- 2 eggs
- 3 spoons of sugar
- Ladyfingers (a.k.a. Savoiardi – Italian biscuits)
- A couple cups of coffee (espresso would be best)
In a bowl mix the mascarpone and sugar. Separate the egg yolks and egg whites, but keep both! Add the 2 yolks to the mascarpone and mix again until uniform.
In another bowl whip the egg whites (with an electric mixer: do you remember? I am a lazy person!). Once done, add the whipped egg whites to the mixture of mascarpone and gently amalgamate.
Quickly dip the ladyfingers in the coffee and arrange in a layer on the bottom of a pan. Just make sure that the ladyfingers don’t soak up too much coffee and get too moist. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture on top of the layer of ladyfingers. Repeat everything with a second layer of dipped ladyfingers and the remaining mixture. At the end, add a third layer of dipped ladyfingers and cover it with cocoa powder.
And, there you go! A quick and easy Italian dinner that you can prepare for a casual gathering, or if you want to demonstrate your Mediterranean cooking abilities.
A word of advice: if you want to combine the dishes with a beverage, I would suggest a dry white wine – from Italy, of course!
(Sources of photos used in the article)
Born in Italy, Laura fell in love with and lived in the UK as a teenager. Then, she turned her interest in Britain into broader passion for traveling and discovering. She holds a BA degree in European languages and cultures from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, with a year as an Erasmus student in the lovely city of Gothenburg, Sweden. She started the MA Euroculture in September 2012 at the University of Groningen and is currently overcoming her shyness with the French language in Strasbourg. Her interests lie in cultures, sociolinguistics and ethnology, sociology and gender studies. She is particularly fascinated by the phenomena of nations and nationalism, stereotypes and… the human brain! Lazy and feminist at heart, Laura misses skiing and her dog, who is waiting for her in Italy.