HLI Cooks!

Paolla’s Linguine alle Vongole

I woke up on this sunny morning dreaming of Italy and thought, right, time for some good food for the soul to take me back to one of my favorite countries. Off I head to my little open veggie market to prepare for one of my all-time favorites: Linguine alle Vongole.

What you will need for this recipe for 4 people. Divide accordingly if less or more people.


320g Pasta type:


In Bianco:

1 Kg of Vongole/ clams

3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt for the clams

Fine salt for spaghetti water

3 garlic cloves (thinly sliced)

Dry white wine (50ml) and 20 ml for me 😉

Freshly chopped parsley

Optional: Bottarga (cured fish roe)


Clams, clams, clams: Make sure to brush and rinse off any residue of sand from the shells under cold water, drain them, and then leave the clams to sit in sea salt in a bowl for about 15 minutes. The sea salt will remove any grit from the shells.

In the mean time, heat up a good amount of olive oil into a good size pan. Add the thinly sliced garlic. Can you smell that goodness in a pan? Can you?

You can now add the washed clams and the splashes of white wine to the heated pan. These darling clams will slowly open up during the cooking process.

Turn down the heat, to low, then cover with a lid so you let all the aromas steam.

During the clams’ steaming process, boil salted water and add your pasta into a sizzle. I usually like my linguine *“al dente” or cooked to be firm to the bite, so remove them from their boiling water after 1O mins with kitchen tongues and add the Linguine to the clams. Add your chopped parsley. Toss and turn, toss and turn so the dish turns into a beautiful marriage of Italian flavors. For those in need of a fish-burst, grate the Bottarga to your dish as the final piece of resistance. Voila!

*Remove the pasta 2 minutes’ prior to the indicated time on the packaging).

Did you know: Spaghetti is the plural form of the Italian word spaghetto, which is a diminutive of spago, meaning “thin string” or “twine”.

Paolla’s Timeless Salade Nicoise and revisited onion tartelette

During this time of confinement and currently living on the French Riviera, I decided to revisit some traditional dishes from Southern France, and more precisely, the city of Nice. Today calls for an elegant salad, and it’s pissaladiere (an onion tartelette). It’s savory, and perfect for those in need of sunshine in a dish.

Ingredients for the salad serving 2 people:

200g of good quality spring water tuna (drained)

2 hard-boiled eggs

6 baby gem lettuce leaves

2 basil leaves (cut in chiffonade)

2 firm tomatoes (cut in quarters)

2 anchovy fillets

6 strings of French beans (cut tails)

12 black olives and if possible from Nice (a handful)

½ green pepper

1 garlic clove (cut in half)

1 spring onion

½ red onion (finely sliced)

For the vinaigrette:

100ml extra-virgin olive oil

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Pinch of Salt as you already have the salt in the anchovies and olives



1      Boil the eggs for roughly 6 minutes

2      Prepare the vinaigrette with the extra–virgin oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper

3      Rub the depth of your salad plate with the garlic clove

4      Arrange and tear your baby gem lettuces, basil chiffonade, and finely slice your green peppers, spring onions, red onions as the base of your salad bed

5      Add the eggs cut in quarters, un-cooked French beans (I usually just cut them with scissors), and drizzle in the black olives

6      Center the tuna and 2 anchovy fillets

7      Whisk and pour your vinaigrette

For my quick and lighter version of the Pissaladiere, all you will need are the following ingredients:

1 ready-made pastry puff

3 lbs onion

5 black olives

½ cup of olive oil

1 garlic clove

2 anchovy filets




1.     Peel and slice your onions

2.     Drizzle the onions into olive oil and unsalted butter in a deep pan, until they are sweet and amber color. This will take roughly 30 mins on medium heat

3.     Set to low heat after 30 minutes and add a little crushed garlic, salt and pepper to them as they cook for another 10 minutes, whilst stirring every couple of minutes

4.     Let the mixture cool down

5.     Preheat the oven to 200 degrees for 15 minutes

6.     Prepare the pastry sheet, and brush a little olive oil to the base and corners

7.     You can now add the onion mixture to your pastry base

8.     Lower the oven to 180 degrees and bake your onion tartelette for 40 minutes

9.     Let the tartelette cool off. You are now ready to add your black olives

10.  Final touch: Crisscross the anchovy filets in the center.

Bonne appetit!

Did you know: The Pissaladiere originates from Genoa in Italy, and it is the translation from the Ligurian word Pissalandrea which translates to Pizza d’Andrea. 

Ioana’s Pasta al Pesto:

In a globally connected world where we are used to being constantly on the move, it may have been difficult to put yourself on standby for an undetermined time. However rather than feeling restricted from not being able to do what I used to do on a regular basis, I chose to do things I never had the time to do!

For instance, I started cooking and baking good healthy food. One of the recipes that I like to cook, as it brings freshness in my house is Pesto alla Genovese, served, of course, with homemade pasta.

In order to prepare a good pesto for 4, you don’t need much:

About 20 minutes of your time

4 bouquets of fresh basil ( about 60/65 leaves)

 ½ cup of virgin olive oil

 50 – 70  g of Parmigiano Reggiano

2 peeled garlic cloves

15 g of pine nuts ( about a tablespoon)

 A bit of sea salt.

Ideally, in order to prepare a good pesto, you need to have a marble mortar and pestle however it works just fine if you use your usual food processor.

The secret for the perfect pesto sauce is that the basil leaves must be dry and not in any way wrinkled. Why? Because breaking the vesicles on the leaves that contain essential oil causes oxidation which in turn causes a change of color and taste which means you could end up with a dark green pesto and herbaceous taste.

So let’s get started preparing this famous Ligurian sauce by putting the peeled garlic in the mortar along with a few grains of sea salt and pound until it is reduced to a cream.  To wash the basil leaves, use a soft wet cloth and add them together with a pinch of salt in the mortar where you obtained the garlic cream. In order to obtain a bright green pesto you have to crush the basil against the walls of the mortar rotating the pesto from left to right. When you see your leaves transform into a nice green sauce, you add the pine nuts and then little by little the parmesan stirring constantly so you can get a creamy tasty sauce.  After you finish adding the parmesan, it’s time for the last touch: the olive oil, that you will pour and stir constantly with the pestle until you get a smooth sauce.

You can preserve your freshly made pesto for 2 or 3 days in the fridge by covering it with a layer of oil.

Traditionally, the pesto is served with a pasta called trofi, a short, thin and twisted pasta that comes from Liguria, the Northern Italy but you can serve it on spaghetti or any other type of pasta.

I hope this sauce will bring freshness to your day and make you feel you are on holidays on the sunny Mediterranean coast!