Italian food is a way of life, centred on sitting around the table with friends and family, discussing the day’s events and sharing plates of fresh, home-cooked Italian food.
“Italian food is warm, inclusive, generous nurturing and often joyously messy,” says Jacob Kenedy, chef-proprietor of Bocca di Lopo in Soho—and that is everything Italian food encompasses.
Nowadays, it is so simple to bring Italian flavours and traditions into your family and kitchen life with just a trip to your local supermarket. All you need is a little Italian meal inspiration. Pasta sauces, Pesto and Antipasti are all staples of the Italian diet and are wonderfully simple to include at family meal times. The best advice is to experiment and enjoy—especially in the kitchen and at the table with your friends and family.
Not only are Italian dishes simple to create, but they’re also one of the healthiest across the globe. The Mediterranean diet has been a firm favourite of Brits during the summer months, with fish and feta being top picks. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar give our lighter dishes more flavour, without being overpowering or making them feel heavy. The Mediterranean diet emphasises fresh fruit and vegetables, fish, beans, pulses, nuts and wholegrain breads, which all work perfectly with the Italian favourite: Pesto.
Pesto is an Italian pasta sauce, which originated in the gastronomic heart and garden of northern Italy, where the land has bountiful supplies of fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs. It is a staple in Italian diets and stems from the notion of harvesting vegetables when they are at their ripest, and preserving them so that they can be enjoyed by all, throughout the year.
There are so many options for using Pesto. It is a great way to liven up a bowl of pasta—although it doesn’t have to be limited to this. Creating a meal from scratch using Pesto will bring a real Italian flair to your table whether it’s mixed into a salad or stirred into soup. It can be used to diversify your weekly meals or add an extra dimension to your Sunday lunches.
If you want to try a true Italian classic, try baking a fillet of white fish (cod works well) with Pesto dolloped on the top. The Pesto forms a beautiful crust for the fish and means that you don’t need to add any other sauces or flavours. So simple and easy! Try it with hand cooked chunky chips, or with asparagus and pine nuts for an even nuttier side.
Another favourite is Parma Pesto chicken. Adding Classic Basil or Sun Dried Tomato Pesto into the middle of a chicken breast before wrapping in Parma ham and cooking, adds extra flavour to a classic dinner dish. Try serving with rocket salad or experimenting with different Pesto flavours to find your favourite.
Because Italian dishes focus on simplicity and flavour, they’re a great way to get the kids involved in the family cooking. Cooking together can become a fun learning activity, allowing you to teach your kids about cooking and the importance of eating their veggies. They will feel a sense of achievement knowing that they were part of the process, meaning less waste from uneaten dinners!
The newest flavour to hit the English taste buds is ‘Nduja, the spicy Italian sausage which originally hails from southern Italy. Many Italian restaurants already use ‘Nduja as a pizza topping, or stirred into pasta dishes. Try ‘Nduja Pesto spread on bread, stirred into soup for a spicy kick to your lunch, or mixed into your scrambled eggs for a tasty morning treat.
Sacla’ are the original Pesto Pioneers, and make a range of Italian Pesto in their Italian kitchens to suit every need. The Free From range is free from wheat, gluten and dairy and is a must for vegetarians, vegans and coeliacs. There are also plenty of flavours to choose from including Fiery Chilli, Char-Grilled Aubergine, Fresh Coriander and Roasted Pepper. A recent addition to the range is a Reduced Fat Pesto which has at least 30% less fat, but the same great taste! And look out for bigger jars for real Pesto fans and small Pesto Pots for convenience and smaller households.
Full details of our complete range is available on our website www.sacla.co.uk, you’ll see that there really is a Pesto for everyone!