Trout fillets with green olive and caper pesto


Mario Matassa brings us this trout dish, known in Italian as filetti di trota con pesto di olive e capperi – make it tonight! Lake fish, like trout, naturally features strongly in the cuisine around the lakes. It was once a staple but overfishing was such that, for a time, other sources of fresh fish […]

Gnocchi alla comasca


This gnocchi dish originates from the Como area, and uses a local taleggio cheese, which combines with the tomato and pancetta to make a flavourful sauce, says Mario Matassa There is a long tradition around the Italian lakes of making homemade gnocchi – this dish is an easy way to recreate the flavours of the […]

Bresaola salad

bresaola - taste of the lakes

Bresaola is air-cured beef fillet, which works well in a salad because the olive oil moistens the cured beef. Mario Matassa shares his recipe here… Bresaola comes from the Valtellina and the Valchiavenna in Lombardy. This is an easy and delicious recipe to try, but be sure to serve your bresaola salad soon after it […]

Tastes of the lakes

Limone sul Garda - Italian lakes

Fresh fish from the waters and other produce from the mountains are the staples of traditional cooking on the Italian lakes, as Mario Matassa explains   Understand the landscape of the Italian lakes and you understand the food. The waters of Lake Como cover 60 square miles to a depth of 1,300 feet, so freshwater […]

Paradise cake with hot zabaglione

Paradise cake with hot zabaglione

Mario Matassa shares his paradise cake recipe – a cake that miraculously improves with age and is better if made one or two days in advance… The name ‘paradise cake’ comes from the fact that the cake is as light as air (like paradise). It has a dry, fragile texture, so is usually filled with a […]

Stuffed guinea fowl

Stuffed guinea fowl

For a festive centrepiece Italian-style you can’t go wrong with roast guinea fowl (faraona ripiena). Mario Matassa gives us the low-down… There are a number of ways to cook guinea fowl, but at Christmas a roast seems almost obligatory. The key to a good roast is to make sure you do not overcook. You might […]

Crespelle ripiene (filled crêpes)

Filled crêpes

This dish originates from Emilia-Romagna and is served in restaurants throughout the area. Mario Matassa brings us a recipe for these tasty crêpes These crespelle – crêpes – make a satisfying dish. The filling is flexible – here I have used red radicchio, but you could also use spinach, mushrooms or ham: Serves 4-6 Preparation time 20 minutes plus […]

Pancetta-wrapped prawns on crostini

Pancetta-wrapped prawns on crostini

This delicious appetiser is perfect in its simplicity and requires minimal preparation time. Mario Matassa shares the recipe with us…  For this crostini dish it is important to find plump prawns and to make sure that the pancetta is sliced very thinly as it has to become crisp just as the prawns are cooked: Serves 4 […]



These golden balls of deep-fried dough smothered in honey and decorated with candied peel make a wonderful centrepiece for the festive table, says Mario Matassa Struffoli, from Naples, are prepared and eaten all over Italy at Christmas. Here’s how to make them: Serves 6-8 Preparation time 30 minutes, plus resting Cooking time 45 minutes Ingredients: • 300g […]

Insalata di rinforzo

Reinforcing salad

Full of the strong flavours that are typical of the region, this Campanian dish will evoke memories for anyone who has ever visited Naples – Here’s Mario Matassa’s take on ‘reinforcing salad’: Insalata di rinforzo (‘reinforcing salad’) hails from Campania in the south of Italy. Its name refers to its capacity to reinforce the appetite. It can […]