Monday 1 July 2024

Zucchine ripiene - meat-filled zucchini (courgettes)

July is the season for zucchini (or courgettes). We now have the "Romanesque" variety available at the market. This variety, typical of the Roman countryside, is full of flavour, firm, lighter in colour and often sold with the flower attached to it. Now, the flower can be stuffed and baked or deep fried. But the vegetable itself is often used to prepare this summer recipe, an absolute Roman cuisine classic and a wonderful dish that can be eaten hot or cold. The flavours of tomatoes, basil, good quality extra virgin olive oil, parmigiano reggiano (Italian original parmesan) all blend together and balance each other perfectly. Also these 'zucchine ripiene' can be reheated and are actually better the day after!

Zucchine ripiene alla Romana - Serves 6

6 zucchini (courgettes), 250g mince meat, 1 egg, 50 grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, bread (without the crust), a slice of ham, extra virgin olive oil, onion, fresh basil, salt, pepper, tomato passata or fresh, peeled tomatoes.

Empty the zucchini carefully. (an apple corer will help take the core out only). To prepare the stuffing, mix mince meat with one egg, some bread (soaked in water then squeezed), parmigiano reggiano, salt, pepper, a few bits of ham. Fill the zucchini with the stuffing.
Fry some finely chopped onion in a pot or pan that can accommodate for all the zucchini) until the onion is translucent. Put the zucchini in the pan, then add tomato passata or fresh peeled tomatoes, a pinch of salt and fresh basil. Cover the pan and cook until the zucchini are soft. La cena e' pronta!

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Risotto agli asparagi selvatici - Wild asparagus Risotto

Wild asparagus - (photo by

Wild asparagus are ready to be picked now and the opportunity is not to be missed, here in Sabina. This variety, very different from the cultivated one we normally buy, is packed with flavour and antioxidants. Wild asparagus grow naturally in wooded areas and picking them require a lot of patience and the ability to spot them. A pleasant walk in the countryside can therefore double as a wild asparagus picking expedition. The actual asparagus plant is not difficult to spot, as it is very spiky and green. The new shoots are the edible part of this plant and appear right at the base of it. Wild asparagus can be eaten raw, but one of the best combination is with something smoked.This risotto combines these two flavours with the creaminess of rice and parmigiano cheese.

Chef Guido's risotto agli asparagi made in his cooking class

Risotto agli asparagi - Serves 6-8
Vegetable stock (carrot, onion & celery), 500 g of 'Arborio' or 'Carnaroli' rice, a bunch of asparagus, 50g of butter, 50g of diced 'speck'(northern Italian smoked and cured ham), 1 cup of grated parmigiano cheese, a small onion, white wine.

Make a vegetable stock in a large pot of water, add a whole carrot, onion and some celery and boil. Keep this on the boil. Finely chop the onion and gently fry it in butter. Add asparagus and 'speck'. Add rice and let it fry with all other ingredients for a minute or two, always stirring. Pour in a little white wine and let it evaporate. Pour enough boiling vegetable stock to cover rice. Add a little salt. Stir rice infrequently (do not stir too much). Add more boiling stock if necessary. Check salt and add more if necessary. When rice is 'aldente' (cooked but firm) add grated parmigiano cheese and stir vigourously. Serve immediately and buon appetito!

Sunday 7 January 2024

3 Wise Kings arrive in the medieval village of Farfa on January 6th

January 6th is celebrated in the monastic village of Farfa with a live re-enactment of the arrival of the 3 Wise Kings. Everyone is in traditional costume, complete with Joseph, Mary, and a mini stable where the baby Jesus has just been born, with sheep, a donkey and calf. Shop keepers, locals and musicians (plus centurions) all dress up to complete the scene and the local village of Farfa comes alive! The Epithany is celebrated with this amazing scene, every year.

This is why I love living in the Rome countryside. This is the real Italy.

Saturday 16 December 2023

Panforte, the true flavour of an Italian Christmas


Thanks to Honest Cooking for this photo

Panforte is an absolute Italian Christmas classic cake. Originally from Siena, Panforte comes from a time, the middle ages, when sugar was not really used in Italy (except for Sicily, where the Arabs brought it already in the 9th Century). To sweeten Panforte, honey and dried fruits were used instead. The recipe I have dates from the 1930's and has the same amount of sugar and honey. Panforte is called 'pangiallo' in Rome and here in Sabina. The only difference is the shape: spherical in Rome, thin and round in Siena. When I offer a slice of my panforte to my friends, I always serve it with a small glass of sweet wine, such us Vin Santo or Passito di Pantelleria. Buon appetito e Buon Natale a tutti!

Panforte Recipe - Serves 10.

Ingredients: 100g (3.5oz) of peeled almonds, 100g (3.5oz) of peeled hazelnuts, 30g (1.0 oz) of cocoa powder, 15g (0.53 oz) of cinnamon, 50g (1.75g) of flour, 300g (10.6oz) of mixed candied citrus peel, 125g (4.41 oz) of icing sugar 
(or confectionery sugar), 125g (4.41 oz) of honey.

Method: Lightly roast almonds and hazelnuts. Put almonds, hazelnuts, cocoa powder, cinnamon, flour and mixed candied citrus peel in a bowl. Put sugar and honey in a pot and let the mix melt on a low heat, always stirring. When, if immersing two wet fingers in the mix and then immediately in cold water, a small sphere will form, the mix is ready. Put the rest of the ingredients in the pot and stir carefully. Put the mix into a greased and flour-dusted cake tin. Bake at low heat (120-150º C/ 250 - 300
º F.) for half an hour.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

Chef Guido's Pumpkin Risotto, the perfect Autumn dish

Autumn in our family home is a time of evening fires, roasted chestnuts, warm soups, country walks and foraging. The leaves are changing colour and falling from our local fig and walnut trees, near our home in the Sabine Hills. There is a crispness in the air in the mornings and evenings but the days are still warm, so a wonderful time to enjoy living in the countryside.

Autumn (also called Fall) is a natural time of letting go and getting organised (think of trees dropping their leaves and animals getting organised for hibernation), and being Italian, we also think of the wonderful seasonal foods we can now enjoy.

Today, I want to share my favourite family recipe for pumpkin risotto, with you. I am sure you will love it.

Risotto alla zucca e rosmarino - Serves 6-8
500 g of 'Arborio' or 'Carnaroli' rice, slice of pumpkin, 50g of butter, 1 cup of grated grana cheese, a small onion, white wine, fresh rosemary*, grana padano cheese.

Make your own vegetable stock by placing a peeled whole onion, whole carrot and a stick of celery in a separate large pot and bring to the boil. Keep this vegetable stock simmering as you make your risotto.
Finely chop the onion and gently fry it in butter. Add diced pumpkin. Add rice and let it fry with all other ingredients for a minute or two, always stirring. Pour in a little white wine and let it evaporate. Pour enough boiling vegetable stock to cover rice. Add a little salt. Stir rice occasionally. Add more boiling stock when necessary. Check salt and add more if necessary. Add chopped rosemary* (sage* can be used instead, if you wish - amount to your taste). When rice is 'aldente' (cooked but firm) add grana padano cheese and stir vigourously.
Serve immediately.
Buon Appetito.

We would love to hear from you: Have you tried this recipe? Please let me know what you think.  Leave your comment here, or contact Chef Guido on

Friday 27 October 2023

Rome Olive Oil Tours in the Sabine Hills

Olive Oil Tours in Sabina, near Rome

Italian olives

Sabina is a region, just north of Rome and famous for it's high quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Harvest time happens just once a year, when the olives turn from green to black and at their best with the highest amount of anti-oxidants. The local farmers are currently harvesting their olives to make their own D.O.P. extra virgin olive oil. (D.O.P. means that the olives are grown, picked, pressed and bottled in the same region, in this case, in Sabina). 

If you want to find out what good olive oil is all about, Convivio Rome conducts 2 types of Olive Tours: 
1/ A Half Day (3.5 hour) Olive Oil Tour: operating all year round

2/ An afternoon Olive Grove Tour during our 4 and 5 Day Italian Cooking Holidays. 

Tuesday 9 May 2023

An Italian Mother's Day : ideas from Italy for celebrating the "Festa della Mamma".

Mother's Day in Italy: when it is, how it's celebrated and how you can make it special for your mamma, too.

Do you have an Italian mamma? Or maybe your mother would just like to be Italian!

Whether she's from Italy or would like to be, whether she has Italian in her family history or she'd like to put down roots there - and wherever in the world she may be right now - here are some ideas for celebrating your mother - in Italian style!

>>>List of Italian Gift Ideas online and in-person

When is Mother's Day in Italy?

Many stereotypes exist about the Italian mamma. What is certainly true, though, is that wherever in the world they may be, Italian mothers are still the main focus of the family and family traditions.  

Although mothers are respected and appreciated all year round, the "official" Mother's Day - known as "La Festa della Mamma" - is celebrated in Italy on the second Sunday in May. This year Mother’s Day will be on Sunday May 14th! It's a day for families to come together to enjoy each other's company and to thank the person who made it possible.

Everyone who is able to returns to their family home. Those who cannot, make sure they send a card, a letter or a poem.

The day itself centres around activities bringing the family together. In most families, Breakfast will be made for mamma - generally fresh pastries and coffee.  Young children will give usually home made gifts of cards and fresh flowers and it's a tradition for young children to write a poem in school, to be given on the day.

Lunch will be held either in the family home or, increasingly, at a local restaurant. This has become the most popular day of the year in Italy to dine out. The meal is always rounded off with a sweet cake, sometimes in the shape of a heart.

Are you looking for inspiration?

We have a list of Italian Gift Ideas for your Mamma on Mother's Day - including online Italian Cooking Classes and in-person activities and experiences in Italy!

>>>Book a Gift Today - Gift Cards & Certificates Available