It has been a while since we reviewed a Jamie Oliver cookbook and this one is superb. Jamie Cooks Italy by Jamie Oliver. If you are trying to eat a rainbow on a daily basis, then this is a great book to start experimenting with. The best way to get into a new cookbook in our house is to leave it on the coffee table for a couple of days… if I leave it there long enough I very soon find post-it-notes lining the pages as folk tag recipes that they want to try. As you can imagine this cookbook very quickly filled with tags… so I went through the bookmarked recipes and chose se7en to try and share with our readers…


One thing about Jamie Oliver recipes is that because he is cooking for his own family, the recipes are designed with families in mind. Most of them have ingredients that you can pick out or leave off for that one picky eater, but saying that, they are full of ingredients that we don’t eat every day – so lots of interesting things to try. The joy of his choice of ingredients is that you can usually find them in the local supermarket, and if you can’t find the ingredients you can easily exchange them for something that you can get in season, or locally.

Jamie Cook’s Italy took two years to create, as he travelled around Italy with his best friend Gennaro Contaldo. Together they explored and tasted their way through recipes in each region, created by the nonno’s and nonna’s of Italy. These are recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation, real food that real Italians cook in their homes. The book is packed with little tips and tricks that turn previously “too difficult to even try” recipes into recipes that we can create in our home everyday. This book is a taste bud delight… 400+ pages, packed with 140 recipes… and all things Italian. Fresh seasonal ingredients and recipes cooked from the heart of Italy. Really is there anything better than Grandma’s cooking, in whatever language you are speaking?

We got together with friends and created a family feast for many… it was definitely a chance for the kids to be in the kitchen, to try new flavours and create beautiful food that they really wanted to eat… We are going to give you a tour of the recipes we tried…

Se7en Recipes We Tried and Tested

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Matera Salad

This recipe really does pass not only the rainbow test of healthy eating, but it packs a whole lot of crunch into it too… not to mention, just layering it up takes a bunch of individual ingredients to a whole, new and somewhat sublime level… This feels like a plate of summer sunshine and even on a wintry day it would bring a whole new level of warmth to your table…
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A delicious dressing over layers of oranges, red cabbage, cucumber, carrots, mint, apples, rocket… and we couldn’t find a ball of burrata cheese, so settled on a soft creamy cheese… to which one inspired tester decided to add camembert as well… as one does!!!
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Corteccia is Italian for tree bark, and with eight kids standing by and a large batch of pasta dough, it was surprisingly quick to create a massive batch of pasta… without any of the hassle of mastering the pasta machine and rolling it out. Simple pinch a small piece of dough off the batch, roll it into a little sausage and squash your fingers into them, like peas in a pod… shake the noodle off your fingers and you are good to begin the next one. Once you have a pile of noodles ready to cook, you can whip up his broccoli pesto,… though we didn’t have enough broccoli lovers to make this worth our while, so we swapped it out and used baby spinach. Baby spinach, garlic, anchovies, chilli flakes, olive oil and lemon juice… so quick so easy… and truly delicious.
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Potato Gnocchi

Gotta say, we have never ever tried gnocchi before, it just seems like too much work and to buy it in the store for a family of ten seemed somewhat over the top. Well let me just say, we were wrong… this is the ultimate comfort food, everywhere. While it was a very labour intensive for our first attempt, we will definitely be making it again. Easy to follow, step-by-step photographs with Nonna Teresa from Roma, we really couldn’t go wrong. And since my husband and I spent a month living on Campo d’Fiori in Rome, the year before we had children… we could very well have sampled her famous Gnocchi in real life, this recipe was a “simply must try” recipe. I mean what isn’t to love about mash potato, smoothed into a creamy pasta, cooked and stirred through garlic butter, and then topped with home made tomato sauce… really a bit of a game changer.
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Carrot Caponata

We didn’t intend to cook this recipe at all… but when one of your kids asks to cook “That Carrot Recipe” more than once… you make it happen. What could possibly go wrong: Carrots and red onions, chillies and garlic, sunflower seeds, raisins, a drizzle of honey and red wine vinegar… Nothing went wrong… these were so lovely, and so worth going the extra mile that I would never normally do when cooking carrots, frankly we could eat just these for lunch on a daily basis.

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Neapolitan Pizza Base

Moving on to Neapolitan Pizza, that has since become our Sunday night tradition… pizzas are the epitome of Italian cooking and while we have been making pizzas for years… these are so easy to create. Make the base early on a Sunday and then later on in the evening as kids drift in from their weekend, we can all create pizzas as we chat about our weekend happenings… its a good thing and exactly the right sorts of zero effort sort of celebration that I am prepared to rustle up on a Sunday night. Classic Margherita’s made by the meter… and you can find the recipe and a video on how to create them over here.
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Mozzerella Bread

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Can we talk about this dreamy lunchtime, actually anytime, treat for a moment. All the delicious flavours, rolled up in a bread dough and cut into wheels, then baked and it will be eaten long before it has a chance to cool. Delicious cheeses and a filling packed with a mixture of goodies that my kids don’t normally eat: capers and green olives, just saying… but something that looks and smells so delicious has to be tried and so we have added some new ingredients to our repertoire. The recipe suggests, smashing the flavours together in a pestle and mortar, clearly we weren’t strong enough for this and one zap in the blender did the trick.

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Ice Cream Sandwiches

And it wouldn’t be a family recipe book without desserts, and it wouldn’t be Italian without ice cream… Welcome to the ice-cream sandwich that hails from Sicilia. Brioche buns take a fair while to create, but they are so worth it. There is a lot of resting and waiting, especially with eager recipe testers all lined up and ready to try something new. These are such a fun dessert, just leave the toppings and the ice-cream out and everyone can create their own. Honestly, I am not a big sandwich eater, ever… but sandwiches like these might change my mind!!!
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You can discover more about Jamie Cooks Italy, and find recipes on his website by following the link here. And you can watch the Jamie Cooks Italy TV series on Youtube…

Previous Jamie Oliver Posts

We were gifted this book, for review purposes by Penguin Random House South Africa. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

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