Masterchef Goes to Italy


If, like me, you were glued to your screens this May, watching Natalie Coleman pip the other finalists to the finishing post through this year’s Masterchef, you will probably also have been drooling into your cushions whilst the contestants visited Mamma Agata in Ravello, Italy.

I was more than a lot jealous watching Natalie, Dale and Larkin head off to the Amalfi Coast to cook the classic Italian dishes, with the very classic Italian mamma. Of course clever editing made all three of her dishes look super simple and super fast, but there’s no amount of camera tricks that can substitute for mouthwateringly tasty looking, rustic Italian fare, glossy with olive oil and packed with the finest back-garden ingredients.

So here are all three of Mamma Agata’s recipes, which she very kindly shared with the finalists, and the nation! As I haven’t tried and tested these yet, measurements are to follow, but if you kicked yourself for watching the show without your pen and recipe pad, these are the notes you need…


Recipe 1: Sundried Tomato Gnocchi

Cook your potatoes skin-on, once peeled get them through the mincer on to a clean dry surface.
Add 00 flour, parmesan cheese and 1 egg.
Add a handful of chopped sundried tomatoes and bind to make your gnocchi dough.

Shape your gnocchi and boil in salted water.
Once they begin to float to the surface, remove from the pan and shock under cold water to stop them cooking.

For the sauce add chopped parsley and slices of fresh artichoke to a large glug of olive oil.
Add another handful of dried tomatoes and combine the gnocchi into the pan.

Serve with a generous sprinkle of parmesan.

Recipe 2: Parpadelle Pasta with Peppers and Sausage

Slice and fry the red and yellow peppers in olive oil and a bit of butter.

In a separate pan, gently fry off a sliced red onion.
In this same pan, sear the sausages and pierce once browned (Mamma Agata says: “Seal flavour in, pierce fat out”)
Add the peppers and a cereal bowl of halved ripe cherry tomatoes.
Cook for 30 minutes.

Make your pasta dough and roll into long sheets.
Roll up and cut into inch thick portions – unravel and toss in flour.
Boil in salted water and after a couple of minutes, add the parpadelle to the sausages and peppers.

Sprinkle with parmesan to serve.

Recipe 3: Stuffed Squid

Chop the tentacles of two squids and add to a pan with olive oil, green olives, black olives, capers, parsley, breadcrumbs and parmesan.

Once cooked, stuff the body of the squids with the mixture and sear in a pan.
Add fresh chopped oregano, a bowl of halved cherry tomatoes and a jar of passata and simmer for 30 minutes.

Serve sliced, with the sauce poured over.


If you try or have tried any of Mamma Agata’s Masterchef recipes I’d love to know what you think, and the quantities you used!


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Piquant Prawn Salad


Having just moved out to the countryside, complete with egg laying chickens on my new snow-covered back-door step, I have been automatically drawn to cooking big hearty food – pies, casseroles, roast dinners, muffins… This weekend, the carb-fest continued with rustic Italian chestnut gnocchi smothered in tomato and garlic sauce for dinner, followed by a brunch of fresh poached eggs and smoked salmon on granary toast. By Sunday afternoon I was feeling over faced and over fed.

Fresh, zingy Thai food to the rescue! There is no better way to cleanse your palette and rejuvenate your smugness than by creating a fragrant, spicy and ‘full of goodness’ salad. I reached out to Rick and a few of my other Thai cook books for inspiration but no one had exactly what I wanted, so I went with my instinct – throwing together some prawns, herbs, limes and strips of veg to create this piquant salad.



2 red chilli (heat to taste)

3 x cloves garlic

Handful green beans (trimmed)


1 x carrot

2 spring onions

2 large limes

2 tbsp fish sauce

2 tbsp light brown sugar

Handful each of basil, mint and coriander

Cup salted peanuts

1 serving of straight to wok thread noodles

1 x pack of cooked king prawns


Firstly, de-seed and roughly chop the chillies and put them along with the garlic and green beans in to a pestle and mortar and pound until they start to muddle.

Add half of each of the herbs and use the pestle to bruise them into the garlic mixture. Then add the juice of both limes, the sugar and the fish sauce and mix (taste as you go).

Next, prepare the cucumber, carrot and spring onion, all very thinly sliced lengthways or peeled into ribbons, and throw into a large mixing bowl.

Roughly chop the remaining herbs and add to the bowl.

Boil the kettle and in another bowl, cover the noodles with warm water and soak for 10 minutes to separate. Meanwhile, rinse the peanuts in a colander under cold water.

Once the noodles are separated, drain and pat dry with kitchen paper and add to the salad bowl, add the peanuts, prawns and the contents of the mortar.

Using your hands, gently toss everything around to mix in the bowl and serve.



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