Monday, September 17, 2012

Dermie Meets: Catherine Fulvio's Eat Like An Italian...

Italy has always been associated with style, fashion, and elegance from Dolce & Gabbana to Valentino, from Vespa to Ferrari. Yet the greatest style of all can be found not just on the Italian high streets, but in warm homes of many an Italian kitchen. This month I chatted to culinary star Catherine Fulvio about the inspiration behind her latest cookbook 'Eat Like An Italian' and the importance the Italian's place on sourcing real local food which is a theme throughout each recipe in her latest cookbook. 



One beautiful summer’s evening, Catherine Fulvio was shopping in her husband's home place of Sicily when she was suddenly stopped in her tracks by a new furniture store. In the window lay a marvelous dark long mahogany dining table with matching chairs and fine vintage Italian china. Catherine was so taken by the dining table that on her way home later that evening, she simply had to take another look at this magnificent dining table, once more.

On returning, Catherine describes her surprise to see that the staff had sat down to enjoy the dining table by having dinner together like a family. The staff were oblivious to life beyond their own company and the enjoyment of their meal. For Catherine, this scene describes the Italian culture where they live to eat and not just eat to live - where work fits around life and where food is slowly enjoyed.  

The scene in the shop window inspired Catherine to write her third cookbook which takes the readers on a Mediterranean journey through over 100 great Italian inspired recipes. Each recipe is accompanied by a short introduction on the inspiration behind each dish including short notes on how to incorporate local Irish seasonal produce into each Italian recipe.

Simple suggestions including making 'Orecchiette With Fennel Sausages and Broccoli' using locally sourced Crowe's Farm Italian Sausages from Tipperary, or 'Rigatoni Alla Vesuviana' made with slices of locally sourced Burren Smokehouse produce; Catherine's book is filled with tips on bringing a taste of Italy home to Ireland using the best very best local Irish ingredients.

Catherine, who is married to an Italian, has a unique insight into Italian life around the dining table of her Sicilian in-laws. For years, Catherine has been impressed with the amount of time Italians put into their meals. Time in preparing their food, time in cooking their food but most of all, time in enjoying their food. Catherine explains "modern Italians are busy people, like anybody else in the world but they do maintain a healthy relationship with food. If they have the time or they are lucky enough to live near their work, Italians definitely prefer to eat a warm meal at home".

Although married to an Italian husband inspired many of Catherine's recipes giving her a love of Italian cuisine, it was growing up on a working farmhouse in Co. Wicklow which made Catherine very well aware of the importance of local produce. Catherine explains "whether it is beans picked straight from your garden or produce bought locally from a farm down the road, locally grown food is by far fresher and therefore tastier". Italian cuisine places great importance on fresh local ingredients by taking time to produce their meals, coupled with enjoying long, leisurely dinners with family - all of which are illustrated chapter-by-chapter throughout Eat Like An Italian


Eat Like An Italian is available to buy in all good bookstores and is packed with over two hundred pages of mouth-watering recipes, food photography and lifestyle shots. The book includes recipes from Italian breads to nuts, beans and legumes; as well as salads, sweets, desserts and even some delicious drinks for that special Italian themed dinner party. One of many delicious recipes from the book is for 'Farfalle with Red Pepper Sauce' which Catherine shares below.

Catherine Fulvio's Farfalle With Red Pepper Sauce

Serves 4



- 350g Farfalle
- 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Oil
- 3 Shallots, Finely Chopped
- 1 Tsp Tomato Purée
- 100ml White Wine
- 2 Red Peppers, Roasted and Chopped
- 50g Crème Fraîche
- 200ml Fresh Cream
- Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- 100g Ricotta Salata (or Feta), crumbed, to serve
- Chives to garnish


1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the package.

2. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over a low heat and saute the shallots until softened. Add the tomato Purée and cook for 1 minute. Add the white wine and cook for a further 2-3 minutes. Add the roast peppers and cook for 1-2 minutes, then stir in the crème fraîche and cream.

3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Remove half the sauce and blend it to a puree, then mix both back together again. Season to taste.

4. Toss the drained, cooked pasta into the sauce, sprinkle over the crumbled ricotta salata and garnish with some chive lengths on top.


Catherine’s Eat Like an Italian cookery class will be held on Sunday November 18th at Ballyknocken Cookery School. A selection of recipes from Catherine’s new cookbook “Eat Like an Italian” hands on classes with light lunch and tastings. A full list of upcoming classes and signed copies of Catherine's new book can be found here.