Recipes from Made in Italy with Silvia Colloca

Zucchini gratin
Zucchini gratin 

Zucchini gratin

Makes 8

3 cups fresh breadcrumbs (preferably homemade – see note) 
2 cups grated pecorino or parmigiano 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped or minced
4-5 marjoram leaves
4-5 oregano leaves
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
4 zucchini

Preheat your oven to 200C (180C fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Apricot and olive oil cake.
Apricot and olive oil cake. 

Mix together the breadcrumbs, cheese, garlic, herbs and olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Cut the zucchini in half lengthways. Using a spoon or a paring knife, scoop out some of the flesh, then fill the zucchini shells with the breadcrumb mixture. Place on the prepared tray, drizzle with a little extra olive oil and bake for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown.

Note: To make breadcrumbs, simply blitz stale bread in a food processor until coarsely chopped. The breadcrumbs will keep in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Grilled lamb chops with asparagus.
Grilled lamb chops with asparagus. 

Apricot and olive oil cake

Serves 8

170g caster sugar 
230ml milk
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
100ml extra virgin olive oil
3 teaspoons mistrà or sambuca (optional; see note)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1⅓ cups self-raising flour   
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
7-8 apricots, cut in half
flaked almonds, for sprinkling
fresh ricotta and honey, to serve (optional)

Preheat your oven to 180C (160C fan-forced). Grease and flour a 21cm square or 27 x 21cm rectangular cake tin (or line it with baking paper).

Place the sugar, milk and lemon zest in a medium saucepan over low heat and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring regularly, until the sugar has dissolved. Do not let the milk come to the boil. Turn off the heat and stir in the vanilla seeds, olive oil and liqueur (if using), then let the mixture cool for 5-10 minutes.

Add the beaten egg, flour and bicarbonate of soda and whisk to form a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared tin and arrange the apricot halves on top any way you like. Sprinkle with the flaked almonds and bake for 30-35 minutes or until pale golden and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool at room temperature for 1 hour before cutting. Serve just as it is or with honey-drizzled ricotta.

Notes: For an alcohol-free version, replace the liqueur with milk. If using very small apricots, layer quarters on top of each other so that they won't completely sink into the batter as it cooks.

Silvia Colloca brings out the flavours of her homeland in Made in Italy.
Silvia Colloca brings out the flavours of her homeland in Made in Italy. 

Grilled lamb chops with asparagus

Serves 4

2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
2-3 sprigs rosemary (or try oregano)
salt flakes
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 tablespoons white wine
16 lamb chops
16 spears asparagus, trimmed if necessary
mint leaves, to garnish
lemon cheeks, to serve

Place the garlic and rosemary in a mortar, add a pinch of salt and pound with the pestle until the garlic breaks down into a paste. Add the olive oil and wine and mix well. Set aside.

Bash the chops with a meat mallet. This process will tenderise the meat as well as increase the surface area the marinade has access to. Massage the chops with the garlic marinade, making sure they are evenly coated. Place the chops in a non-reactive bowl or plastic container, cover with a lid or plastic film and marinate in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Blanch the asparagus in salted boiling water for 1–2 minutes or until tender, but still firm to the touch. Drain, then rinse under cold water to preserve the vivid green colour. Season to taste with salt, then finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Heat up a chargrill pan or a coal barbecue. Cook the chops on both sides over very high heat until scorched but still succulent. The cooking time depends on the thickness of the chops and of course your personal taste, but as a guide, for medium, cook on both sides for 2–3 minutes. Cover the chops loosely with foil and rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Arrange the chops and asparagus on a large serving platter and garnish with mint leaves. Squeeze a little lemon juice over the top and serve hot.