Tina’s Finocchio Gratinato



I had no idea what I’d do with Parmigiano Reggiano for this challenge, so I took to searching on the internet like anyone would do. I wound up straight at the source – http://www.parmigiano-reggiano.it/ and found a very simple recipe using fennel. I altered it a bit to my liking; for example, I didn’t feel the recipe called for enough cheese.

1 medium fennel bulb
a knob of butter
a good handful or so of grated Parmigiano

Peel the fennel at the hardest parts, cut it and cook it briefly in salted water. (The original recipe calls to cut it in half, but I sliced mine several times as I preferred smaller pieces.)
Drain the fennel, melt the butter in a frying pan and lightly brown it.
Place the fennel baking dish, sprinkle it with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and bake it until the cheese is completely melted.* Serve hot.

* I baked at about 150C and did not time it; I just kept my eye on the cheese.


Here’s my trial and error (and what I have in the fridge) recipe for Melanzane Parmigiana (Parmesan Aubergine/Eggplant) –


My own version – I KNOW it’s not a traditional version, before the purists slate me!!

You’ll need – A large plump fresh aubergine sliced into 1cm rounds

Grated parmigiano – a nice little mountain of it!

Chopped or coarsely grated ball of mozzarella.

Tomato sauce


Finely chopped onion

Couple cloves finely chopped (or crushed) garlic

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

Tablespoon tomato concentrate

Big handful of basil leaves, ripped up.

Salt and freshly ground pepper.

(Glug of red wine, if you want to make it richer)

About 200-250ml of beschamel sauce – if no time, the little tetra packs are a reasonable substitute for making it yourself!

What you need to do …

Heat the oven to a med-hot heat. I use about 180°c (I’m doubting myself now – is it °C or °F? You’ll know!)

Get a griddle pan nice and hot – no oil.

Cook the aubergine slices until tender and very slightly charred along the lines of the griddle. Put them to one side as you cook them, you’ll need to do the slices in batches, I doubt if you have a griddle pan big enough to do them all in one go!

While they are cooking, get your tomato sauce sorted …. In a saucepan, add a good glug of EVO and warm up – add the onion and stir a little to coat in the oil.

After the onion has softened slightly, add the garlic and stir that around too, coating it in the oil. Cook gently for about 5 minutes stirring frequently to stop the onion and garlic browning.

When they are nice and soft add the tin of tomatoes and about a tablespoon of tomato concentrate. (You can add your glug of wine at this stage if you want!)

Stir everything well and bring back to a simmer.

Add the ripped basil leaves & seasoning.

Stir, simmer for 15/ 20 minutes or so until the onions are really soft and the sauce has thickened.

When the sauce is done to your liking and the aubergines are cooked, start layering!

Start with a bottom layer of a bit of the tomato sauce.

Then aubergine

Then some blobs of beschamel dotted over

Then a hefty sprinkling of parmigiano

Then tomato sauce…

Then start again.

Finish with a layer of aubergine.

Absolutely finish with a mix of parmigiano and mozzarella.

Into the oven for about 30 minutes.

You want it to be browned a little on top and bubbling away – and of course for the tomato sauce to have soaked into the aubergines!

Leave it to rest for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

It is a fairly ‘saucy’ dish, but REALLY tasty!

Now, silly me, I was so taken with eating this, I forgot to get a picture of it when it was on my plate! Rest assured, it was pretty damned good!

Sarah & Mark’s Chicken Caesar Baskets


This perfect summers day lunch is so easy to make and so delicious to eat. The parmesan baskets are a fantastically simple idea and are light and chewy but crisp. Wonderful!

Chicken Caesar Baskets (Makes 4)

For the Baskets:
2 cups grated parmesan
1 empty jam jar or glass

For the Filling:
1 large chicken breast
2 strips of bacon or speck
Romaine lettuce

For the Caesar Dressing:
2 cloves garlic
4 anchovy fillets
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 large egg yolk
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

First make your baskets:
1. Take a handful of parmesan and a hot flat griddle
2. Spread the parmesan in the centre of the griddle in a circle, thicker towards the centre and thinner towards the edges (this will make the edges more lacy)
3. Heat, then once bubbling and slightly starting to turn golden, remove from the heat
4. Loosen parmesan disk from the griddle with a spatular and as soon as you can, pick it up and drape over the up-side-down jam jar.
5. Make creases to form the bowl shape.
6. Remove from the jam jar and set aside to cool.

For the dressing:
1. Mash the garlic and anchovies together – if you have a mini blender then this is perfect.
2. Add the salt, pepper, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, egg yolk and then whisk in the olive oil. Blitz or whisk together until thick and creamy.

Now for the filling:
1. Slice chicken breast into small pieces and cook on a hot griddle (with any seasoning you may like)
2. Cook bacon in a similar way and cut into strips
3. Wash lettuce, tear into small pieces and toss in the Caesar dressing
4. Place a handful of the lettuce in the bottom of each basket, top with the chicken, bacon strips and chopped chives and you are done.
5. Yummy!

Marina’s Broccoli and Parmigiano Pasta.


Broccoli, pasta, olive oil, garlic, pine nuts and parmigiano cheese.
Roast Pine nuts then add olive oil and garlic in heavy bottom pan. Boil the broccoli in salted water and when al dente, scoop out of pot with slotted spoon and put into frying pan. Cook the pasta in the broccoli water and when cooked, add to frying pan with broccoli. Toss together then add as much cheese as you like and serve. Easy light meal!!!

Amber’s Asparagus, Arugula and Parmesan Salad

250 grams of asparagus
Half a red onion, sliced thin
Two handfuls of arugula
Shaved Parmesan (use your vegetable peeler!), About 10 slices
2 strips of cooked (crunchy) bacon or pancetta
Olive Oil for sautéing

For the vinaigrette:
6 tablespoons of Olive Oil
2-3 tablespoons of champagne or white wine vinegar
1 tsp of Dijon mustard
1.5 tsp of honey
1 small shallot, chopped very fine
Salt and Pepper Q.B.

Wash and remove the woody stems from the asparagus. Cut tips of asparagus off and using a vegetable peeler, “slice” the asparagus into long strips. Heat oil in a pan large enough to hold onions and asparagus. Add onions first and let them cook for a few minutes over a medium low heat. Add asparagus strips and tips and continue cooking until desired tenderness. Don’t forget to season with S and P.
Let cool until warm but not cold.
While cooling, add all the ingredients for the vinaigrette to a shaker or glass jar with a lid and shake vigorously until completely emulsified.
To make salad, toss arugula, asparagus, red onions and a desired amount of dressing. (Hey, some people like it lightly dressed while others heavily dressed!) Add cheese and toss again gently. Sprinkle crumbled bacon on top.

Serve alone or accompany with a nice big steak!

Giselle’s Courgette & Parmesan Soup

Here’s the link to the site I found the recipe originally – 


Good glug of EVO

1 tbsp chopped garlic

handful basil leaves chopped

sea salt and ground pepper to taste

1kg courgettes cut lengthways into quarters then into 1cm slices

750 ml chicken stock

60 ml or big glug of single cream

handful fresh flatleaf parsley chopped

50g freshly grated parmigiano plus extra for serving


Heat the oil in a heavy based pan over a med heat.

Cook the garlic, basil, salt and courgette slowly for about 10 mins or until the courgettes are lightly browned and softened (or just softened!)

Add pepper to taste, then pour in the stock and simmer for about 8- 10 mins uncovered.

Remove from heat.

If you have a stick blender, stick it in the mix and whizz about 3/4 of it.  If you have a food processor, do the same amount. (I prefer 1st method – less washing up!)

Return the soup to the pan and stir in the cream parsley and parmigiano.

To serve, ladle the soup into a bowl, sprinkle with more parmigiano (or shavings are good) and some toasted pumpkin seeds. ( Salt n pepper optional – I think it’ll be fine.)

Serve with crusty bread and a green salad.


Amber’s Risotto with Leeks, Parmesan, Lemon and Rosemary


4.5 cups of broth (vegetable or chicken)
2 large or 3 small leeks, washed and sliced thin
1 large shallot, sliced thin
1 tsp of finely chopped rosemary (optional)
Zest of one small lemon or half of a large lemon
White wine
400 grams of Carnaroli Rice
Olive Oil
Small knob of butter
70-100 grams of parmigiano
S and P, Q.B.!!
Saute leeks until tender about 10 minutes in a bit of oil. If pan dries out too much or leeks start to color, add broth.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan large enough to cook 400 grams of risotto. Saute shallots until tender. Add rice and toast until rice starts to turn transparent. Add wine (about one turn around the pan) and cook off. And add 2 cups of hot broth and continue stirring. When liquid is almost gone, add 1.5 cups of broth, rosemary if using, cooked leeks, and lemon zest and continue cooking and adding broth as necessary. Add salt as necessary keeping in mind whether your broth is salted! When rice is cooked, turn off the heat. Add a small knob of butter and all of the cheese. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Mary’s Chicken Involtini with herbed Parmigiano Reggiano and Chard

1/2 chicken breast sliced into 4 slices and pounded
30 grams/1 cup of shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
40 grams/3 Tbsp of stracchino or enough to form a paste with the P.R.
1 lg clove of garlic minced
2 tsp fresh thyme minced
1 cup cooked chard or spinach, cooled and squeezed as dry as possible
salt and pepper
1 egg scrambled with 1 Tbsp of water for the egg wash
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, or regular bread crumbs
2 Tbs shredded Parmigiano Reggiano
Olive Oil

Salt and pepper the chicken slices and set aside.

Mix together the cheeses, garlic and thyme forming a paste. Spread the paste evenly over the 4 slices of chicken, then cover each slice with 1/4 of the chard. Roll the slices into tight fairly tight rolls.

Mix together the panko or breadcrumbs, 2 Tbsp of Parmigiano Reggiano, salt and pepper.

In a medium frying pan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan. Heat over medium high heat.

When the oil is hot, dip each involtini into the egg wash and then into the Panko or breadcrumbs covering thoroughly. Place each involtini into the hot oil and cook until each side is golden brown and the chicken is completely cooked through.


125 g Filet steak semi-frozen and sliced thinly in strips
90 g Parmigiano Regiano shaved in curls
1/3 jar of large capers
Zest & juice of 1 Meyer lemon
Leaves from sprig of fresh Thyme
2 tblsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Lay the sliced steak on a cutting board, and brush with 1 tblsp of extra virgin olive oil. Take one slice at a time, lay down one large caper and roll into a ball. Repeat with all the meat slices. Place the rolled balls in a bowl and pour over the lemon juice and the zest. Cover and allow to marinate for 15 minutes.

Arrange the shaved PR on a platter, then the rolled Carpaccio, garnish with more capers and Thyme leaves. Drizzle the remaining extra virgin olive oil over the Carpaccio.

Temple’s Asparagus with Parmigiano


Fresh asparagus
Olive oil
Coarse sea salt (preferable gris) and fresh ground pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano in shavings

Snap the tough bottoms off the asparagus and wash and pat dry: In a pan just large enough to hold them all in one layer, coat the bottom with oil. Place the asparagus in all in the same direction and roll them around to get them coated all over with oil. Salt and pepper. Roast in a 200°C oven for about 15 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork. Meanwhile shave the parmigiano, preferably with a truffle shaver or other that will produce very fine but large shavings. Remove the asparagus from oven and sprinkle with the shavings. Wait about one minute until the shavings start to melt and serve.