Caprese Salad – Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil

Gavin WrenRecipes, Salads, Small Bites, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Traditional Caprese salad doesn’t have pesto, balsamic, loads of herbs or other ingredients, it’s just fantastic tomatoes, mozzarella di bufala campana, basil, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. That is all you need for the most amazing, light, bright, fresh mouthful of summer. When you see the tomatoes in season, it’s time to jump at this perfect vegetarian lunch dish and KISS! (Keep It Simple, Stupid!)
Today, I revisit the world of beautiful Italian simplicity, the Caprese Salad. Borne out of luscious hot summers that gift the Italian land with amazing tomatoes, they marry with thick wedges of traditional Mozzarella di Bufala Campana perfectly, creating a dish that deserves only the best ingredients, and nothing else will do. Along with it’s stablemate, the Tricolore Salad, the Caprese sits in the throne of elegant beauty amongst dishes, so often bastardised by those who don’t know better. On the other hand, you, my friend, do know better, or at least you will do, in about 730 words time. Last year I published a rant about how Italian food is debased by people’s interpretations of it. Italian dishes often require just a few ingredients, which makes them incredibly accessible and simple, but they should be the most amazing examples of the ingredients that you can find.

Aglio Olio con Peperoncino – Garlic Oil Chilli Spaghetti

Gavin WrenMain Dishes, Recipes, Vegetarian

Traditional Italian pasta dish, aglio olio con peperoncino translates as garlic, oil and chilli in English, a trio of simple flavours which make a truly epic dish, full of elegant beauty. Gently infused garlic works it's way into the olive oil, which is rounded off with a kick of chilli and a hint of parsley, topped with a good dousing of pecorino or parmesan cheese. It's a truly authentic yet quick pasta dish, which is a real treat to eat.
Aglio olio con peperoncino is a beautifully elegant, authentic Italian pasta dish. It’s sheer simplicity is it’s genius, with intermingling flavours of garlic, olive oil and chilli creating a sensational dish that takes just minutes to prepare. Today, I realised that I’m completely pre-occupied by the thoughts in my head. They’re always there, incessantly telling me what to do and what not to do, what I will do and what I won’t, what I’m supposed to be doing, but not doing. It’s tireless, which makes it equally exhausting at the same time. These thoughts rarely achieve anything, aside from distracting me from the actual task in hand, whatever that may be; working, relaxing, eating, cooking, listening, talking, thinking etc. How to be Grateful. Last night I was chatting to a friend about gratitude, the idea that we can become grateful and happy, simply by saying we are. Equally, we perpetuate…

Melanzane in Saor (aubergine)

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Melanzane in Saor is an amazing vegetarian and vegan aubergine (eggplant) dish in a sweet and slightly sour sauce, which is unique to Venice and follows a proud history of Italian food using love, respect and time to get the best of the ingredients. It's a serious make ahead dish, needing 2 days to mature but worth the wait for those fantastic flavours and perfect for buffet spreads or picnics.
Today I’m recounting an amazing Italian dish called ‘melanzane in saor’, or aubergine ‘in Saor’. It’s a very simple yet beautifully balanced Italian dish that has sweet and sour flavours that work just beautifully together. The age is the important thing, you need to make this dish well in advance to let the flavours develop, it’s perfect to make a day ahead for a buffet spread or to take along to a picnic, but don’t hurry it. If there’s one thing that Italian cooking has ever taught me, it’s that love and respect are the ingredients that make food beauteous. Visiting Venice. Just over a year ago I visited Venice, one of the most confoundingly beautiful places I’ve ever been to. I expected hustle, bustle, noise and expensive food, which was entirely correct, however I hadn’t prepared myself for the heart and soul of Venice, which is the important part.…

Spelt Dough Balls with Garlic Coconut Butter Dip

Gavin WrenRecipes, Side dishes, Small Bites, Spelt & ancient grains, Starters, Vegetarian

Hot, crunchy, soft, doughy balls of deliciousness, cooked in the oven alongside a perfect homemade spelt pizza. Dipping duties are handed over to a simple thick and creamy garlic coconut butter dip all ready to plunge these spelt dough balls into as soon as they're out of the oven.
Today’s post is about some hot, crunchy, soft, doughy balls of deliciousness, cooked in the oven alongside a perfect homemade spelt pizza. Dipping duties are handed over to a simple thick and creamy garlic coconut butter dip all ready to plunge these spelt dough balls into as soon as they’re out of the oven. Cook With Your Heart. Cook with your heart, not your head. Sage advice. Somebody once said to me “when you cook with your heart, I can tell”. I have a habit of trying to intellectualise or overcomplicate recipes, trying to do something clever, new or different. Why? I’m not Heston-blooming-Blumenthal, nor am I aiming to procure a Michelin star or three. I’m a blogger, one of the custodians of the online world of food, part of the culinary cyber presence put here to blog, to share what my world consists of. My recipes should be about…

Courgette and Aubergine Antipasti

Gavin WrenRecipes, Salads, Side dishes, Small Bites, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Courgette and aubergine antipasti is a simple vegan and vegetarian summer BBQ recipe perfect for lunches or picnics. Grilled or BBQ vegetables mixed with a simple dressing of olive oil, garlic, mint and white wine vinegar make a perfect make ahead side salad that tastes better after 24 horus in the fridge! Make the most of the summer's abundant courgettes and aubergines with this amazingly tasty Italian side dish!
Courgettes, courgettes, courgettes. They’re coming out of my ears. They’re just everywhere at the moment. Courgettes are the fruit of summer, they’re the long, thin, green fruit of our garden England, borne forth in abundance during the summer months. Courgette and Aubergine Antipasti is an awesome way to use a load of them up, make a big platter if you have guests coming round and I assure you it will all get eaten, it tastes amazing, especially after 24 hours to meld and uses up excess vegetables in the blink of an eye. It’s also the perfect recipe for sitting in the garden, reading the paper, turning the veg on the BBQ occasionally, whilst still feeling as though I’m actually doing something useful. The Big Move. I’m writing this from a desk that is devoid of ‘stuff’. In preparation for my house move, I have cleared everything away, leaving just…

Balsamic Roasted Peppers

Gavin WrenBasic Ingredients, Recipes, Side dishes, Starters, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Balsamic roasted peppers are a mediterranean treat made with red, orange, green or yellow peppers, gently braised in the oven with garlic, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil until they become soft, sweet, richly flavoured slithers of pepper. Perfect for a salad, a picnic or to be served alongside cheese, charcuterie and olives as antipasti. Alternatively make ahead and store them in the fridge until you need them.
Today’s post is about creating luscious slithers of pepper, roasted with balsamic vinegar and garlic to create rich, sweet antipasti style balsamic roasted peppers. These are incredibly easy to make if you forego the peeling, but if you want the ‘perfect’ experience then you need to peel them, just make sure you’ve dialled in your patience levels on that particular day. Confrontation. I woke up early today. I’ve got a meeting with a website developer about a the ongoing development of the bloggerskillsacademy site I’m creating. The whole process has drifted slightly and I feel we need to kick some life back into it and get on track. I get nervous about confrontation with people, so having to exhibit some doubts about the way things are progressing seems like a mammoth hurdle to me. I get up early anyway, my alarm goes off at 5.40am, at which point I jump…