The Middlesex Food Festival 19th - 20th June 2021 Hazelwood Centre, Sunbury

My recipe is a real Italian classic from the beautiful city of Mantova, and it is also my signature pasta dish. Its a very different way of serving pasta, a recipe that can be made in advance, feeds a crowd and never fails to impress. A wide sheet of pasta is rolled out as thinly as possible, then spread with the filling and rolled up in a cloth before being poached in a fish kettle. Once cooked, it is dramatically unwrapped and coated with a rich tomato sauce to serve.

By the time I was 8 I had converted the family sandpit into my first restaurant with a table for one, merrily serving gravel stew and leaf salad to whoever stopped by! I was so fortunate to grow up surrounded by food in its truest sense – with a vast vegetable garden, fruit trees, vines, an olive grove, chickens, pigs and rabbits for meat; even a small boat on the beach in front of the house, piled with nets that we would drop into the sea at sunset when the conditions were right, and haul in at dawn. The resulting catch, whatever it was, would then be turned into a whole variety of marvellous dishes to be served at the table. My parents never seemed to stop celebrating their enormous love for one another, always ready to host yet another lunch or dinner for 20, 30, 40 people, and as a result the kitchen was always a hive of activity; a place where I was always welcomed and where I learned so much as my passion for Italian food grew. For me, it has always been about the producers and the raw produce itself. Italian food is all about using the very best ingredients available and then doing as little as possible to them! This might sound as though it does not require much skill, but to make Italian food tastes authentic means using skills that have often been handed down for several generations.
At the MFF I will be selling a carefully chosen selection of delicious Italian products for your store cupboard on my stand – come and find me to find the very best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pasta, sauces, truffle based products, preserved wild cherries and more!

At the MFF I will be selling a carefully chosen selection of delicious Italian products for your store cupboard on my stand – come and find me to find the very best Extra Virgin Olive Oil, pasta, sauces, truffle based products, preserved wild cherries and more!

Valentina Harris