Planes grounded, but I can still visit Italy – recipes included

April 11, 2020

Planes grounded, but I can still visit Italy – recipes included

I have been inspired by my darling niece, Hannah, who said to me, ‘The planes may be grounded, but never fear, you can travel to Italy from your very own kitchen.’

I thought I’d take on her challenge. I’m going to cook a little Good Friday, Italian dinner for Tim and I.

Remembering the fun we had @villapoderebrogi for Tim’s 60th birthday celebrations…all in the kitchen cooking together

With this spontaneous thought, I’m only going to cook from what’s in the pantry and follow Jacinda’s advice and stay at home. Pre Covid-19, I would have gone to the supermarket to buy two ingredients, but not any more. I can’t cheat anyway as it’s Good Friday and all the supermarkets are closed. Tim is our designated shopper, he likes the outing, good for his mental health he says. For me, my goal is to not go to a supermarket during the lockdown. I spend my time trying to discourage him from going, so the last thing I’m going to do is ask for some mozzarella and ricotta. So, I’ll be substituting ingredients, but I will put up the real recipes as I’m sure it will provide a better outcome, but just have fun cooking with what you have.

So this is what I’m cooking…

Grilled Eggplant Rollatini

As I had no ricotta and fresh mozzarella to roll up in eggplant, I grated a zucchini, added a little grated tasty cheese and stirred in an egg. They were sensational.

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio

This very simple pasta of just olive oil, garlic and chill flake is one of my all-time favourites and there’s every chance you will have all the ingredients.

It always helps if you are cooking with quality ingredients. Sabato has on-line shopping and no-contact pick-ups

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce

I didn’t have half the ingredients for this delicious meatball recipe, but I improvised and even used a little mince and a couple of very good pork sausages. They were scrumptious and even got accolades from my critic, Tim!

It’s almost impossible to get a bad meal in Italy. I think it is because their style of cooking is so forgiving

The meatballs were a great hit

If you are looking for a wine to compliment an Italian meal try a Chianti or d’abruzzo. We drank an excellent 2015 Cecchi Vino Nobile Di Montepulciano


Grilled Eggplant Rollatini


For the marinara

2 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves crushed garlic

1/4 tsp chilli flakes

tin of crushed tomatoes

3 tbsp chopped basil

Salt and pepper

For the Rollatini

1 cup ricotta cheese

1 cup fresh grated mozzarella

1/3 cup grated provolone

2/3 cup grated Parmigiano

1 egg

1/4 cup chopped basil

2 large eggplants

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper


For the Mariana

Put oil, garlic and chilli flakes in a pan. Cook until fragrant. Add tomatoes. Cook till slightly thickened for about 20 minutes. Add S&P.

For the Rollatini

Whisk ricotta, 1/3 cup mozzarella, parmesan, egg and basil together.

Cut eggplant longways into strip 34-mm thick. Brush with oil both sides and lay on baking paper and bake at 180 degrees until soft. Place heaped spoon of filling and roll-up. Place in a dish and pour over marinara sauce and top with a little parmesan and mozzarella. Cook for about 15 minutes.

Spaghetti Aglio E Olio


400g  spaghetti

90 ml of olive oil

5 cloves garlic

pinch dried chill flakes

little chopped parsley

grated pecorino


Cook pasta al dente and lightly drain. In a large frying pan, cook garlic and chilli flakes in olive oil. Add the spaghetti and toss to coat. Season and serve with grated pecorino.

Meatballs in Tomato Sauce


180 olive oil

1 finely chopped onion

100g pine nuts

3 cloves crushed garlic

chopped parsley

tsp dried basil and rosemary

50g fresh breadcrumbs

250 g ricotta

25g grated parmesan

Grated zest of a lemon

1 egg

500g of pork or beef  mince or better still a combo


2 tins crushed tomato (we used Mutti)

100ml red wine


Put some olive oil in a pan and cook onion and pine nuts – set aside

Put herbs, breadcrumbs, ricotta, lemon zest and mince in a bowl and mix with your hands. Roll into balls. Heat rest of oil and brown the ball until golden brown. Gently add to the balls to the sauce and simmer for 10 minutes. Serve with a little grated parmesan.


2020-04-12T11:17:48+12:00April 11th, 2020|ITALY|

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  1. Jenni Merton April 11, 2020 at 4:53 pm - Reply

    Fantastic Jane, very inspirational. Lovely photos X

    • Jane Jeffries April 12, 2020 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Thanks – just love a little kitchen time!

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