June, 2016

May, 2016

April, 2016

  • The six rules of barbecuing

    28 April, 2016 The six rules of barbecuing

    Even the best cooks can be stumped when it comes to cooking to perfection over coals. We ask Ben Tish to tell us the six most important rules of barbecuing so we can grill with confidence over the long weekend.
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November, 2015

October, 2015

September, 2015

August, 2015

July, 2015

  • Eat like an Italian

    20 July, 2015 Eat like an Italian

    If you’ve ever been on holiday to Italy, like us, you’ve probably eaten classic pizzas, pastas and risottos until you’re fit to burst. While sticking with what you know isn’t always a bad thing, delve a little deeper and you’ll find the true heart of the region; eating cotoletta in Milan, beans in Florence and artichokes in Campania will open up a whole new world of Italian cooking. We spoke to three Air B’n’B hosts about the food of their region, must-eats while you’re there, and asked about the best-kept secrets when it comes to eating out.
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  • Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

    06 July, 2015 Michelin Stars in Your Eyes

    With so many Michelin-starred chefs on the site, we challenged Cooked writer Imogen Corke to test her mettle on some of the trickier recipes. This week, she cooks Atul Kochhar’s cod in nilgiri korma gravy from his latest cookbook, Benares.
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May, 2015

  • Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    22 May, 2015 Q&A with Rosie Birkett

    We ask our authors ten questions about their life long love of food. This week, we speak to Rosie Birkett, author of A Lot on her Plate, about roast dinners, tuna tacos, and why you should never run your finger through hot caramel.
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  • The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    01 May, 2015 The Lunchbox Edit: Spring Greens

    Each week, we take some of our favourite recipes and give them a little tweak to make perfect packed lunches.
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Cooking vegetables the Carluccio way

Helen Barker-Benfield
11 January, 2017

The Italian way with vegetables is easy to recreate in your own kitchen, says Antonio Carluccio as he shares his vast plant knowledge from his latest book, Vegetables – now in the Cooked library.

Vegetables are very important in Italian food culture, and often will be at the heart of a dish, rather than an expensive protein such as meat. Vegetables have such individual flavours, textures, colours, cooking qualities and health benefits, and vegetable cooking in Italy is basically simple, relying on the flavour of each vegetable to sing through. 


From vegetable leaves, like chicory, radicchio, spinach and Swiss chard to the brassica family of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower there’s plenty of inspiration to be had for the cook with greens. Polenta crust with broccoli and chicory uses small spears of purple sprouting broccoli, which are lightly cooked in olive oil with garlic and chilli. Stalk, stem and shoot vegetables are growths from the parts of the plant that grow above ground – asparagus and celery, Swiss chard, fennel, sea kale and, perhaps surprisingly, rhubarb. Globe artichokes too, as it’s the stem buds, the immature flower heads that are eaten. This Swiss chard and artichoke tart is an Easter treat in Liguria. Blanch the Swiss chard leaves in salted water for a few minutes before mixing with ricotta and beaten eggs for the filing. Then there are salad leaves, those leaves that are mostly eaten raw in salads (although some of them can be cooked). All of these items are essential, whether wild or cultivated, for a good salad, and the more the merrier.  Add pods and seeds, or beans and peas, and you’ve got a wealth of veg to work with. My favourite way to cook green beans, which are eaten as young pods, is to stew them in a tomato, garlic and basil sauce, accompanied by bread for a starter. Beans that are podded include borlotti beans, cannellini beans and broad beans, edamame and the pea. Look out for pea shoots too, which are the tips of the pea plant.

Root vegetables

Root vegetables may be associated with cuisines of the northern hemisphere (there are few parsnip recipes in Mediterranean countries!), but we do like a few of them in Italy. I think root vegetables are the most rewarding for producing food because of their sheer availability. While beetroot, carrots, parsnip and turnip are true root veg, because they grow underground, tubers (the enlarged stem of a plant) are also known as a root vegetable – of which the potato is now an important world crop. I don’t know of another vegetable that is so versatile and when we were children, if we had this rustic potato cake for lunch or dinner we knew the larder or refrigerator had been thoroughly raided. A piece of salami or ham here, a piece of cheese for flavour there, eggs, parsley…  Consider here too, the allium family. These include onions, garlic, wild garlic and leeks - it is almost impossible to imagine Italian food without garlic isn’t it?

Vegetable fruits

These are actually the fruits of their parent plant. They grow on vines, developing from a flower; their bodies are pulpy and contain single or many seeds. Botanically, they are classified as fruit although most of them are known and treated as vegetables. Pumpkins, squashes, cucumber and gherkin, marrow and courgettes sit nicely in this group. As do bush fruits such as tomatoes, peppers and chillies, aubergines, avocado and olives.  My basic tomato sauce is used for a variety of purposes: for a ragù, for pasta, for soups and potatoes, etc. I like it very simply served, with lovely spaghettini and a scattering of basil leaves. 

The final flourish

Almost as important as the vegetables themselves are the additional flavourings we use to enhance particular vegetable dishes. Herbs and spices have been used in this way since the very earliest times, herbs particularly in Italy. Herbs and spices not only add taste, but their essential oils contribute to the digestibility of many foods. The rosemary and garlic served with lamb perform a dual purpose (as does the apple served with pork, or the orange juice with duck): they cut through and improve the digestibility of the fat. They’re just as useful when used with vegetables. Add a spoonful of Ligurian basil sauce to a soup like minestrone for additional flavour and you’ll see what I mean. 

We’ve gathered a few of our favourite recipes from Vegetables below in a collection, or why not browse the book in it's entirety


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