Recipes from Gennaro’s new Verdure cookbook

Round & About

We’re sharing a taste of Gennaro’s Verdure: Big and bold recipes to pack your plate with veg by Gennaro Contaldo (Pavilion Books).

Arancini di funghi; filled mushroom balls

(makes eight)

These filled mushrooms may seem a little fiddly to make but, believe me, they are well worth the effort! Once filled, the mushrooms are pressed together to form a ball or, as I’ve called them in Italian, arancini (little oranges). I like to serve them with a selection of salads and pickles. You can easily make these vegetarian by omitting the pork and Parmesan by substituting with extra breadcrumbs and chopped mushrooms.


16 small-medium chestnut or white mushrooms (approx. 500g/1lb 2oz), wiped clean

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

knob of butter

100g (3½oz) minced pork

Two sage leaves, finely chopped

4 tsp white wine

50g (1¾oz) ricotta

30g (1oz) grated Parmesan

plain flour, for dusting

Three eggs, lightly beaten

abundant dried breadcrumbs, enough

to coat the mushrooms

abundant vegetable oil, for frying

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and, using a small spoon, very carefully remove as much of the interior (gills) as possible without tearing the mushrooms. Finely chop the stalks and combine with the gills.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a small frying pan, add the chopped mushrooms and stir-fry for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Replace the frying pan on the heat, add the minced pork and sage and stir-fry until the meat is well sealed. Season with salt and pepper, then add the wine, stir and allow to evaporate. Add the cooked mushrooms to the pan and cook for a minute, then take off the heat, allow to cool, then stir through the ricotta and Parmesan.

Fill the mushrooms with this mixture. Join two mushrooms together, pressing well, then coat in flour, dip in beaten egg and repeat to double-coat. Finally, coat in breadcrumbs.

Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-based pan over a medium/highheat until hot, then deep-fry the mushroom balls for about four minutes until golden brown. A deep-fat fryer is ideal for this if you have one!

Using a slotted spoon, lift the mushroom balls out of the oil, drain well on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil and then serve immediately.

Recipe 2:

Torta di carote e mandorle – carrot & almond cake

(serves eight)

Delicately light and healthy, this easy carrot cake would be perfect with a morning coffee or at teatime. I like to use the Italian raising agent known as Paneangeli, with its delicate vanilla flavour, and it should be obtainable from Italian delis and international shops. Otherwise, regular baking powder will work just fine.


Four eggs, separated

225g (8oz) caster sugar

130g (4¾oz) plain flour, sifted

2 tsp Paneangeli baking powder, sifted

(or regular baking powder)

150g (51/2oz) ground almonds

275g (9¾oz) carrots, grated

a little icing sugar, sifted

handful of flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/ gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm (8in.) round springform cake tin and line it with baking paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together for about 10 minutes, until nice and creamy.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the flour, Paneangeli (or baking powder), ground almonds and grated carrots into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the stiffened egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake in the oven for 55–60 minutes, until risen and cooked through. If you insert a wooden skewer, it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven, then leave to cool completely before carefully removing it from the tin. Place on a plate and dust the top with icing sugar and a handful of flaked almonds, before serving.


This cake is best eaten fresh but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Taken from Gennaro’s Verdure: Big and bold recipes to pack your plate with veg by Gennaro Contaldo (Pavilion Books). Images by David Loftus.