Take your taste buds on a journey around Italy with a selection of Gino D’Acampo’s best new recipes

HAVE you run out of steam when it comes to inspiring recipes?
Climb aboard for some delicious classic Italian dishes the whole
family will devour.

Much-loved
telly chef Gino D’Acampo
has taken a train journey around his
native Italy, picking up lots of tasty recipes at every stop.

Dan Jones Gino D’Acampo went by
train around his native Italy in search of the best classic
dishes[/caption]

His new book, Gino’s Italian Express, and forthcoming ITV
series, bring you authentic recipes you can easily recreate at
home.

Here, we reveal the best…

His new book is a collection of his
delicious finds – here he’s revealed some his favourites

Once again I have been lucky enough to have been given the
chance to travel around Italy for a new TV series – this time by
train.

It was a fantastic journey that took in much of the north of
Italy. As I travelled around, I gathered recipes that were
authentic, used local ingredients and evoked the places I
visited.

To reflect the express theme, I made sure I selected recipes
that are quick and easy, while still being impressive and
delicious.

When conducting my research, I noticed that lots of “quick”
recipes were basic in flavour.

The recipes are quick and easy while still being impressive and
delicious.

Gino

So I made it my personal mission to create a book that offers
you meals that I would serve at a dinner party, but that would not
take long to prepare and cook.

There is a huge misconception that you need to spend hours in
the kitchen to produce something special. I’ve proved in this
book that this is not the case.

So this is for those of you that have busy lives and little
time, yet still want to eat well and produce flavoursome Italian
meals you can be proud of.

Ciao and buon appetito!

Snacks – anti-pasti

I HEADED to Pisa, home of one of the world’s most iconic
buildings, the Torre di Pisa — as the Leaning Tower is known in
Italy.

The name ‘Pisa’ derives from the Greek word for marshy land,
which the whole city is built on.

Abbi-Rose Crook Pisa might not be
known for its food, but Gino certainly discovered some gems –
like the Pizzeria Il Montino[/caption]

Having visited this amazing site, it was time to explore the
rest of the city, and what better way to do this than to jump on a
classic Vespa, whizzing around the streets and squares.

Pisa is not known for its food, but I guarantee you will not be
disappointed if you find the Pizzeria Il Montino.

It is famous for its castagnaccio, the most delicious chestnut
cake you are ever likely to try.

Tuna and bean salad

Serves four

EACH year I spend the summer with my family on the island of
Sardinia, and we enjoy this salad at least once a week. My wife
often makes it in the morning and stores it in a sealed container
in the fridge, in preparation for our boat trips.

Sometimes she adds a few sun-dried tomatoes or pickled onions
– to be honest, you can add pretty much whatever you fancy. Buy
tuna in oil rather than in brine, which has the texture of cat
food! Serve with warm crusty bread.

Dan Jones For this tuna and bean
salad, Gino recommends using tuna in oil rather than
brine[/caption]

You need:

  • 1 x 400g tin of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 x 400g tin of butter beans, rinsed and drained
  • 100g pitted green olives, drained and halved
  • 10 fresh red cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 10 fresh yellow cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 480g tuna chunks in oil (tinned or in a jar), drained
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Put the beans in a large bowl. Add the olives, tomatoes, onion
    and chives. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Pour over the oil and mix all the ingredients together. Set
    aside for about five minutes to allow the flavours to combine.
  3. Just before serving, add the tuna and mix gently, trying not to
    break up the chunks too much.

Deep-fried mozzarella sandwich

Serves four

THIS was my late father Ciro’s favourite starter/snack. He was
always so happy when my mother made it for him.The Italian name
translates as ‘mozzarella in a carriage’. Mozzarella is really
the only essential ingredient for the filling – the rest is up to
you.

Try adding anchovies, salami, sun-dried tomatoes, cooked ham or
a teaspoon of black olive paste…you can pretty much add whatever
you like. I hope you enjoy these little treats as much as Papa
did!

Dan Jones For a delicious warming
lunch, try Gino’s mozzarella sandwiches – they go great with
sun-dried tomatoes, cooked ham or a teaspoon of black olive
paste[/caption]

You need:

  • 2 x 125g balls of buffalo mozzarella cheese, drained
  • 100g plain flour
  • 150g dried fine breadcrumbs
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 2 tbsp full-fat milk
  • 8 slices of white bread, crusts removed
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves
  • 600ml vegetable or sunflower oil for deep-frying
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cut each mozzarella ball into four slices. Lay a double layer
    of kitchen paper on a large plate and place the mozzarella on top.
    Cover with another double layer of kitchen paper. Press firmly to
    extract any excess milk from the mozzarella. Set aside.
  2. Put the flour on a large plate. Spread out the breadcrumbs on
    another plate. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with the milk and some
    salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Using a rolling pin or palm of your hand, press down each bread
    slice until flat.
  4. Place one slice of mozzarella on one half of each slice of
    bread and top with a basil leaf. Fold over the bread to cover the
    mozzarella and make a rectangle. Gently press down with your palm.
    Dip the edges of the bread in the egg. Using your fingertips, press
    down the edges firmly to seal.
  5. Use one hand to dip each sandwich in the flour (shake off the
    excess), then the eggs (let excess drain back into the dish), then
    transfer to the plate with the breadcrumbs. Use your other hand to
    coat the sandwich evenly with the breadcrumbs, patting them firmly
    into the egg so they stick.
  6. Heat the oil in a large shallow saucepan until very hot. To
    check if the oil is ready, sprinkle in a few breadcrumbs – they
    will sizzle when the oil is hot enough for frying.
  7. Fry the sandwiches in two batches for about two minutes each
    side or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain
    on kitchen paper. Season with salt and pepper and serve
    immediately.

Grilled stuffed avocado

Serves four

I HAD never seen an avocado until I came to London in 1994. They
just weren’t a feature of southern Italian cuisine.However, since
I have been travelling around Italy for the TV series, I realise
they are actually very common in northern Italy, featuring on lots
of restaurant menus.

This grilled stuffed avocado recipe is great when you want
something healthy but filling. I normally eat two halves, but one
half is certainly enough for a starter portion.

Dan Jones Gino picked up this tasty
but healthy recipe in Northern Italy[/caption]

You need:

  • 2 large ripe avocados, halved and stoned
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 large fresh plum tomato, deseeded and cut into 1cm
    chunks
  • 60g pitted green olives, drained and roughly chopped
  • 2 spring onions, trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 x 125g ball of mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into four
    slices
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Brush the avocado
    flesh with a little oil and grill, flesh-side up, for about three
    minutes or until starting to brown. Set aside.
  2. Put the tomato, olives and spring onions in a medium bowl. Add
    the oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and stir to
    combine.
  3. Carefully spoon the filling into the avocados. Place a slice of
    mozzarella on top of each.
  4. Return the avocados to the grill and cook for about three
    minutes or until the mozzarella starts to melt. Serve
    immediately.

Italian rice salad

Serves six

WHEN I was a little boy my mother, Alba, used to make this rice
salad for my lunch box.It’s a very useful recipe, as you can
prepare the salad a day ahead, refrigerate it, then take it to work
the following day.

For maximum flavour, it’s best eaten at room temperature
rather than straight from the fridge.

Dan Jones This Italian rice salad
is a childhood favourite of Gino’s, who says it’s best served
at room temperature[/caption]

You need:

  • 300g long-grain rice
  • 100g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 100g green beans, cut into 2cm lengths
  • 100g pitted green olives, drained and halved
  • 100g small pickled gherkins, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 10 fresh red cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 5 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 medium boiled eggs, peeled and quartered
  • 50g Parmesan cheese shavings
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Bring 2.5 litres of salted water to the boil in a medium
    saucepan. Add the rice and cook for about 12 minutes, stirring
    occasionally. Add the peas and beans and boil for two minutes.
  2. Tip into a sieve placed over the sink. Rinse under cold running
    water for one minute to cool, then leave to drain thoroughly. Tip
    into a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the boiled eggs and
    Parmesan, and stir gently until everything is well combined. Season
    with salt and pepper.
  4. Transfer the rice salad to a large serving plate. Arrange the
    boiled eggs around the dish and scatter over the Parmesan.

Pasta and pizza

FOR many, the gastronomic heart of Italy is the Emilia-Romagna
region.

Its capital is Bologna, which is often overlooked by tourists
but has a beautiful historic centre and a lively yet chilled-out
atmosphere.

Abbi-Rose Crook On his travels, the
TV chef stopped off at Bologna where the cuisine is rich and
contains plenty of cream and cheese[/caption]

Food has always been incredibly important here, and the cuisine
is rich, containing plenty of cream and cheese.

Outside Italy the city is best known for Bolognese sauce
(ragù), but mortadella, the large Italian sausage, originates
there too.

Wine and socialising are also a key part of life in the city,
and Bologna is home to what claims to be the world’s oldest
osteria (pub).

Penne with eggs and pancetta

Serves four

PEOPLE often ask me what my favourite pasta dish is, and this
must be among my Top Ten…salty, crisp pancetta with eggs and
pecorino cheese – it’s a match made in heaven.

It’s really important to take the saucepan off the heat when
you pour over the egg mixture, otherwise you’ll end up with
overcooked eggs and sticky pasta. The heat from the pasta and
pancetta will be enough to cook the eggs and give a creamy, moist
texture.

Dan Jones If you’re craving a
salty, crispy, cheesy pasta, this should be your
go-to[/caption]

You need:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g salted butter
  • 200g diced pancetta
  • 4 medium eggs
  • 40g freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 4 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 500g dried penne rigate
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Fill a large saucepan with four litres of water, add one
    tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a small frying pan over a
    medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the pancetta and fry
    for about eight minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Break the eggs into a medium bowl and whisk lightly. Stir in
    half the pecorino and the parsley. Season with salt and pepper. Set
    aside.
  4. Cook the penne in the boiling water (uncovered) until al dente.
    To get the al dente perfect bite, cook the pasta one minute less
    than instructed on the packet. Stir every minute or so.
  5. Return the frying pan with the pancetta to a high heat for one
    minute.
  6. Drain and tip the penne back into the pan, off the heat. Pour
    over the egg mixture and the pancetta with its oil. Stir for about
    30 seconds to combine.
  7. Transfer to warm plates or bowls. Sprinkle over the remaining
    pecorino and serve immediately.

Pizza with spicy salami

Makes two

THIS is the pizza I like to cook for my friends when they come
to my house for a ”boys’ night”. It’s the perfect
accompaniment to a few beers. In Italy spicy salami is called
salame piccante or salamino piccante, and you won’t find anything
called a pepperoni pizza (pepperoni is the Italian-American version
of salame piccante).

However, confusingly, you might find a peperoni pizza
(pronounced the same but with one less ”p”), which would be
topped with bell peppers. If you like, you can use chorizo for this
recipe.

Dan Jones Why not try this recipe
with chorizo or even throw on some peppers?[/caption]

You need:

For the dough:

  • 200g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 x 7g sachet of fast-action (easy-blend) dried yeast
  • 1⁄2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing and
    brushing

For the topping:

  • 150ml passata (sieved tomatoes)
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x 150g balls of mozzarella cheese, drained and cut into small
    cubes
  • 12 slices of spicy salami
  • Salt

Method:

  1. First make the dough. Put the flour, yeast and salt in a large
    bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the oil then gradually pour
    in 140ml of warm water.
  2. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, mix together thoroughly to
    create a wet dough. Turn out the dough on to a well-floured surface
    and knead for about five minutes or until smooth and elastic.
  3. Brush two large baking sheets with oil. Halve the dough and
    shape into two equal-sized balls. Place each in the centre of the
    oiled baking sheets. Brush the top of the dough with a little oil
    and cover with cling film. Leave to rest at room temperature for 15
    minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
  4. Meanwhile, make the topping. In a measuring jug or medium bowl,
    combine the passata and the oil. Season with salt. Set aside.
  5. Use your hands to push each dough ball out from the centre,
    stretching the dough to create two rounds about 25cm in diameter
    and 1-2cm thick. You can also use a rolling pin if you prefer. Make
    a small rim by pulling up the edges slightly.
  6. Using the back of a tablespoon, spread the tomato mixture
    evenly over the pizza bases, from the centre outwards, avoiding the
    rim. Scatter over the mozzarella.
  7. Bake for eight minutes. Remove from the oven, scatter over the
    salami and bake for a further five-eight minutes or until golden
    brown.

Fettuccine with minced pork, mascarpone and white truffle
oil

Serves four

WHEN I visited Turin for the latest TV series I was lucky enough
to drive a vintage Fiat 500 around the Lingotto racetrack on top of
the old Fiat factory, fulfilling a childhood dream.

I then had the pleasure of cooking this delicious pasta dish
right in the middle of the track for my city guides and new
friends, Carlo, Massimo and Laura. It is a day that I will never
forget.

Dan Jones Fettuccine is best served
al dente – to do this, cook for one minute less than instructed
on the packet[/caption]

You need:

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g salted butter
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 500g minced pork
  • 250g mascarpone cheese
  • 150g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 350g dried fettuccine
  • 60g freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • 4 tbsp white truffle olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Fill a large saucepan with four litres of water, add one
    tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the oil, butter and rosemary in a medium
    saucepan over a medium heat. As soon as the rosemary starts to
    sizzle, add the onion and fry for about eight minutes, stirring
    occasionally.
  3. Add the pork, season with salt and pepper and fry for 15
    minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the mascarpone, peas and
    parsley and cook for one minute.
  4. Cook the fettuccine in the boiling water (uncovered) until al
    dente. To get the al dente perfect bite, cook the pasta one minute
    less than instructed on the packet. Stir every minute or so. Scoop
    out a cupful of the cooking water and stir about two tablespoons
    into the sauce.
  5. Remove the fettuccine from the water using tongs or a spaghetti
    spoon and put it directly in the pan with the sauce without
    draining. Toss for about 20 seconds to coat the pasta. Stir in the
    pecorino.
  6. To serve, divide among warm plates and drizzle over the truffle
    oil.

Linguine with a spicy pancetta, cherry tomato and basil sauce

Serves four

THIS is my son Luciano’s favourite pasta dish. He loves the
spicy pancetta with the sweet basil sauce.

If you want to make it for vegetarians, replace the pancetta
with one large courgette chopped into 5mm cubes and replace the
pecorino with rennet-free cheese.

Dan Jones Gino’s son Luciano
loves this dish due to the flavour combo of spicy pancetta with a
sweet basil sauce[/caption]

You need:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 200g diced pancetta
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 50g fresh basil leaves
  • 500g dried linguine
  • 20 fresh red cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50g freshly grated pecorino cheese
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Fill a large saucepan with four litres of water, add one
    tablespoon of salt and bring to the boil over a high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a small frying pan over a
    medium heat. Add the chilli flakes and pancetta and fry for 20
    minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  3. Pour the extra virgin olive oil into a food processor and add
    the garlic. Blitz for about one minute. Add the basil and blitz for
    one further minute or until smooth. Set aside.
  4. Cook the linguine in the boiling water (uncovered) until al
    dente. To get the al dente perfect bite, cook the pasta one minute
    less than instructed on the packet. Stir every minute or so.
  5. Drain and tip the linguine back into the pan, off the heat. Add
    the pancetta and chilli, the basil sauce and the tomatoes. Stir
    gently for about 20 seconds to combine.
  6. Transfer the pasta to warm plates or bowls. Sprinkle over the
    pecorino and serve immediately.

Chicken, meat and fish

OVER the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time travelling
around my beautiful homeland, mainly by car and boat.

However, this time I was asked to take a tour of northern Italy
by train for a new TV series and I jumped at the chance, as I
hadn’t been on a train for more than 15 years.

Abbi-Rose Crook Gino says he jumped
at the chance to do his journey by train as ‘you can just sit
back and admire the sights without the stress of
driving’[/caption]

There is something relaxing and exciting about travelling by
train (and I’m not talking about the daily commute!).

You can just sit back and admire the sights without the stress
of driving and traffic jams, the rhythmic sounds of the engine can
be soothing, there’s plenty of space to walk around, you never
know who you’re going to meet and, if you’re lucky, there’s a
restaurant carriage – a big plus for me!

Tuna steaks in garlic, lemon, chive and chilli crust

Serves four

WHEN I was filming in Pisa I saw this dish in many restaurants,
so out of curiosity I had to try it. It was really delicious and
fresh-tasting, and I loved the contrast of textures between the
crisp crust and the tuna steak.

The people of Pisa are, quite rightly, very proud of this dish,
so I decided to share the recipe with you all. Serve with a crispy
salad and enjoy!

Dan Jones Another great discovery
Gino made in pisa was this delicious crusted tuna
steak[/caption]

You need:

  • 4 tuna steaks (about 200g each)
  • Lemon wedges to serve

For the crust:

  • 8 slices bread (white or brown, preferably a day old), crusts
    removed and torn
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Preheat the grill to its highest setting. Brush a baking sheet
    with oil and set aside.
  2. Put all the ingredients for the crust in a food processor and
    blitz to fine crumbs. If the mixture seems too wet, add one more
    slice of bread. Transfer to a large plate or tray.
  3. Dip the tuna steaks into the breadcrumb mixture until evenly
    coated. Press the breadcrumbs into the tuna so that they stick.
    Transfer the steaks to the..

Source: FS – All – Food and Nutrition Blogs
Take your taste buds on a journey around Italy with a selection of Gino D’Acampo’s best new recipes