Lemon Ricotta Linguine with Lamb’s Lettuce

22. Quick Lemon Ricotta Linguine LGFE (Illumina Media)

Linguine with ricotta, lambs lettuce and lemon [This photo was taken during a live tv show by Illumina Media]

‘This is a perfect light pasta dish for the summer prepared in the same amount of time it takes to cook the pasta’

500g linguine
salt for pasta water

For the sauce:
1 cup reserved pasta water
150g lambs lettuce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
200g ricotta
75g parmesan
Lemon Pepper to season
To Serve: Freshly grated parmesan

Follow the instructions on the packet to cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water.

Reserve a cup of the pasta water when you drain the pasta.

Place the ricotta, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, half the pasta water and parmesan in a container. Add some lemon pepper. Use a hand blender to combine all the ingredients together until it forms a smooth paste.

Heat the rest of the olive oil on medium heat in a large flat saucepan. Add the blended ricotta mix. Add the linguine and stir gently then the pasta water little by little until the consistency of the sauce is creamy and coats the pasta. Add the lambs lettuce and garnish with more parmesan, lemon pepper and lemon segments. Serve immediately.

‘Lea’s tip: the starch contained in the pasta water produces a thick creamy consistency when added to the sauce without the addition of cream or butter. Omit adding salt to the sauce as the saltiness from the pasta water is usually sufficient.’

I use linguine by Pasta Rummo, ricotta by Zappala, lemon pepper by Schwartz, fresh vegetables by Big Fresh and parmesan and other cheeses by Experia the Deli.

Pasta e Ceci

Pasta e ceci 8

Used a mix of fresh and dried chickpeas.  To add texture and heighten the flavor I cook half of the fresh chickpeas and add more during the last 5 minutes of cooking time and of course raw chickpeas are added to top the dish just before serving.  Tableware: C&H Bartoli

This dish is made with ordinary ingredients found in nearly every Mediterranean kitchen.

The fresh chickpeas [ciccri tal-qatta] are in season right now, a very short season. I use a mix of fresh and dried chickpeas and when fresh chickpeas are not in season, this pasta is just as delicious with dried chickpeas.

Pasta e ceci 1

Fresh chickpeas are sold in large bundles.  You need patience and time to shell them but it is worth it.

Use approximately equal amounts of fresh and dried chickpeas.

Cook the dried chickpeas in plenty of water.  If you have not soaked them, add 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda once the water starts to boil, then lower the heat and cook until they soften.

You will need:
500g pasta
200g fresh chickpeas
200g  chickpeas (cooked and drained)
4 large tomatoes, chopped
70g pancetta, chopped
2 anchovy fillets
natural no-additive stock cube
1 large onion finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
150g canned chopped tomatoes
a handful of fresh mint leaves
a handful of parsley
olive oil
salt and pepper
freshly grated pecorino cheese to serve

Drizzle some olive oil into a heavy pan and gently cook the chopped garlic and onion on low heat. Add the pancetta and anchovies, cook for 5 minutes.  Add half the cooked chickpeas, then half the parsley and mint. Add the stock cube and 400ml water. Cook for 10 minutes.

Add the pasta and top with more water just to cover the pasta. Stir and add the tinned tomatoes and half the fresh chickpeas.
When the pasta is nearly cooked add half of the rest of the chickpeas and keep some aside to garnish the dish.
pasta e ceci 9
Drizzle some olive oil. Garnish with fresh mint and parsley, some fresh chopped tomatoes and some fresh uncooked chickpeas.  Season with ground pepper and serve immediately with grated pecorino cheese.

Conchiglie Caprese

pasta caprese

‘the salad that originated in Capri is a classic and my pasta bake has the same ingredients.  It is lightly baked and then before it is served topped with more of the same fresh ingredients’

conchiglie caprese recipe 0

You will need:

500g Conchiglie (pasta shells)
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
200g chopped canned tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
3 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
a pinch of dried oregano
1/2 glass white wine
3 tablespoons grated mozzarella

Cook the pasta shells according to the instructions on the packet but reduce 2 minutes cooking time as the cooking process will carry on in the oven.

Prepare a simple tomato sauce by gently cooking the garlic in olive oil. Do not allow it to brown and add the canned tomatoes and carry on cooking on a gently heat. As soon as it reaches boiling point add the wine and reduce the heat. Stir and add the tomato puree and dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Mix the sauce with the cooked pasta shells. Prepare a baking dish with baking spray.  Place the pasta and sauce in the dish and sprinkle the grated mozzarella on top.  Bake in a preheated oven at 190C for 30 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow to rest before adding the rest of the ingredients.

After baking and just before serving:
150g vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, sliced
250g fresh boccone di mozzarella
A spoonful of fresh basil
a few arugula leaves, washed well and dried, chopped
a pinch of dried oregano
1 tablespoon olive oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
a few drops good wine vinegar to drizzle

Scatter the rest of the ingredients on the surface and serve immediately.

Ingredients are available for home delivery

Baked all-in-one Macaroni Cheese

all in one macaroni cheese

All-in-one Macaroni Bake as seen on TV, Photo Ian Noel Pace

‘I love all-in-one recipes, be it cakes, soups or anything. Baked Macaroni here usually includes a bolognese type meat sauce and the dish is sometimes encased in pastry to make a kind of pasta pie.  My recipe here is based on American macaroni cheese without the hassle of making the usual bechamel sauce, simply all-in-one, bake and eat !’

You will need:

500g pasta, I use fusilli 3 color
a pinch of smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon grain mustard
1 tablespoon flour
a grating of fresh mustard
250g mascarpone
100ml water
1 egg
1 small onion, chopped and cooked
a grating of fresh nutmeg
fresh ground pepper and sea salt
150g hard goats cheese
150g grated parmegiano

Cook the pasta following the instructions on the packet.
In a large bowl mix all the other ingredients together except for the cheeses. Use a hand held blender to bring it to a smooth consistency. Add half the cheeses.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Fold the cheese mixture into the pasta.
Prepare a dishes or smaller dishes with a baking spray.
Fill the dish/s with the pasta mix.  Sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
Bake for 45 minutes in the oven or until the top is golden.
Leave to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Macaroni Amatriciana

Macaroni #Amatriciana

Macaroni #Amatriciana

I love traditional Italian pasta dishes and for Amatriciana you will need:

Macaroni or pasta of your choice, allow 75g -120 per portion, depending on appetites

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 small clove garlic, finely chopped
120 g guanciale
A pinch of chili
1/4 cup white wine
1 can (450 g) tomatoes and juice, crushed
Pinch of sugar or stevia
freshly grated pecorino
A salt and freshly ground pepper
I use fresh basil for garnish

Add the pasta to a large pot of salted water and cook until still slightly firm to bite. This usually takes about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain when cooked.

Saute the finely chopped onion and garlic on medium heat in the olive oil. Stir continuously so that it does not brown. Cut up the pancetta or guanciale into small cubes and add together with a pinch of chili.. If you like it very spicy add more if you wish but traditionally it should only have a hint of heat !
Add the chopped tomatoes and pinch of sugar and wine and leave the sauce to thicken on a low to medium heat for 15 minutes.
Season with a very little sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Pour over cooked drained pasta and garnish with fresh basil leaves and freshly grated pecorino cheese. If you do not have this, use Parmesan.

Serve immediately.

Beautiful Xghajra   Photo Benny Scerri

Beautiful Xghajra Photo Benny Scerri

I love Ricotta Gnudi

Ricotta Gnudi as seen on ONE TV

Ricotta Gnudi as seen on tv. 

Light, made so very quickly, gnudi are a firm favorite of mine at the moment. They are light balls of ricotta coated with a very thin layer of semolina and this is the type of dish that makes you look like you have spent ages preparing, yet nothing could be easier.

You will need:

500g ricotta
75g grated hard cheese
freshly ground pepper
1 egg
a pinch of fresh nutmeg
freshly ground pepper

During today’s programme I also added a large handful of chopped kale, parsley and basil [optional]

You will also need around 200g of semolina to roll the gnudi in [you only need a very thin film so most of this semolina will not be used

Place the ricotta in a bowl with all the other ingredients. Mash everything up and then cover your work surface with baking paper. Prepare a large dish or tray also lined with baking paper.

Take a teaspoon of the ricotta mix and roll it in the semolina on the work surface. Place each ball gently on the dish or tray. Repeat the process until you have used the mixture up. Place the gnudi in the fridge for at least an hour. I have made these on tv and cooked them after 20 minutes of preparation and they still hold together however best to refrigerate them for a longer period of time.

Boil a large pot with plenty salted water. Shake the extra semolina off the balls and drop into the boiling water. When they float to the top they are ready and lift them up gently one by one and place in a colander over a large pot. They are ready in 3 to 4 minutes. Do not overcook, as soon as they float to the top, remove them from the hot water.

Simple gnudi recipe as seen on ONE TV

Simple gnudi recipe as seen on ONE TV

In the meantime prepare the sauce of your choice. Here I used an onion, two cloves garlic, 12 fresh tomatoes, a spoon of tomato paste, half a glass of red wine, some dried oregano and seasoned with salt and pepper. A traditional fresh tomato sauce although I have made them using a different variety of sauces and you can find another recipe here with sage and walnut. For this tomato sauce, I place everything in a pan all together, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and allow to cool slightly. Whizz with a hand blender. Add more tomato paste if you prefer.

Plate the gnudi and cover with tomato sauce. Garnish with fresh flat leaf parsley

Photography Ian Noel Pace during a live tv show.

My eggs and fresh herbs come from Big Fresh, Mosta, cheese from P J Sutters and semolina from St Georges Brand


Penne Gorgonzola with Walnuts and a visit to Farmers Market

With two Farmers Markets on the island we are spoilt for choice. Local fruit and vegetables are available for the consumer on the same day of harvest and distributed all over the island within a few hours. I visited Doreen this week

at her stall in Ta’Qali and she explains that although peaches are graded according to their size and the prices varies, the taste and flavor is the same irrelevant of the size, making it so economical to stock up on the smaller ones when using them to cook with.

I made a quick supper last night of penne with gorgonzola and walnuts, all ready to eat in under 10 minutes and you will need:

Penne (75-120 g per portion, depending on appetite)
¼ cup gorgonzola, crumbled, and a few small chunks to garnish
6 walnut halves, broken roughly
¼ tsp dried oregano
4 flakes dried flaked garlic, soaked and chopped up
2 tablespoons light single cream
6 tablespoons white or rose wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Drizzle of olive oil
Parsley to garnish, if desired

Cook the pasta in salted water according to the package instructions.
In a saucepan, heat up a touch of olive oil and cook the flaked garlic gently.
Add the oregano and cook further. Add the wine, cook and reduce.
Add the single light cream and the Gorgonzola. Stir until the cheese melts and everything has smoothly combined. The sauce should have a satiny texture.
Season with sea salt and freshly ground pepper.
Drain the pasta. Add the sauce and mix.
Add half the walnut chunks and toss together.
Plate and garnish with the rest of the walnuts, the small pieces of Gorgonzola, and parsley if desired.
Serve immediately.


A quick pasta meal, penne gorgonzola with walnuts, as seen on tv

I use penne by Pasta Rummo, dried herbs by Schwartz, fresh vegetables by Big Fresh, cheeses from Experia deli and nuts by Good Earth

Pasta shells with Borlotti beans


I share this simple dish that is one of my favorites.

You will need :

250g Borlotti Beans
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

Borlotti beans: Soak overnight in water. Rinse and place in a pot. Cover in cold water and add one teaspoon bicarbonate of soda. Bring to boil. Simmer and cook on low heat, rolling boil , for 45 minutes. Drain the water.

500g pasta shells

Cook the pasta in plenty salted as per instructions on the pack. For the last 5 minutes of cooking time, drain and transfer into the sauce. Cook for the last five minutes, turn off and cover.

For the sauce you will need :

2 tablespoons olive oil, hold one back for garnish
6 large tomatoes with skin on, roughly chopped
1 large clove garlic, grated
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 can tinned tomatoes
1 spoon tomato purée
A measuring jug of water
1/2 cup wine
A pinch of dried rosemary
Salt and freshly ground pepper
For garnish: Around 10g per portion of pecorino cheese
A dusting of finely grated lemon rind

Put a spoon of olive oil in a large pot on moderate heat. Add together the onion, grated garlic and fresh tomatoes. Cook on low heat until they soften. If necessary top with water from your jug. Do not allow to dry up. Cook until the mixture softens up. Add the wine then the tinned tomatoes fresh rosemary and dried rosemary. Leave to reduce.


Stir in the extra parsley, stir. plate the pasta and add more Borlotti beans, lemon zest and parsley, top with local pecorino cheese.


I use Pasta Rummo, borlotti beans by Good Earth, fresh vegetables and herbs by Big Fresh, tinned tomatoes by Victoria Brand, dried herbs and spices by Schwartz, kitchenware by Tescoma, cheese by Experia the Deli.

Tagliatelle with cabbage and cumin


This is a quick pasta dish with gorgeous local flavors and many textures. You will need :

100g bacon, finely chopped
100g local sausage meat (tal Malti)
1 teaspoon butter
1 onion, sliced, today i have used 6 spring onions instead
1 garlic cloves, grated
8 cups cabbage, shredded
500 g tagliatelle
1 spoon cumin seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 pot long life light low fat cream plus same measurement of water

Cook tagliatelle according to package directions, and while it is cooking, prepare the rest of ingredients.

Melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.

Add the onion, bacon, sausage meat, garlic and half the cabbage. Saute stirring occasionally until softened and just beginning to turn golden.

Stir in cumin seeds, then cover, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for 5 to 10 minutes. Add the low fat cream and water. Cook for another two minutes.
Drain the noodles in a collander.
Add the cooked noodles to the other ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and stir well until noodles are heated though. Add the rest of the uncooked cabbage and mix gently.

Adjust seasoning if necessary and serve hot.


And today a public holiday, the feast of the Immaculate Conception in Bormla. The church in the middle of the square is even more beautiful today, adorned and ready for the procession.