Author Archive

Health Benefits Of Italian Food

Monday, June 25th, 2018

For many, Italian cuisine can be summed up with two words: pasta & pizza. Carb-heavy, covered in cheese, these two culinary delights are probably the last thing on your mind when you’re searching for healthy options. The world of Italian food however is much more diverse than meets the stereotypical eye. Embracing the best of a Mediterranean diet, Italian food in its diverse array has some wonderful health benefits. At Bella Cosa, we love to explore these healthy options in our Canary Wharf restaurant. Here’s more details on our favourite ingredients!

1. Tomatoes. One of your five a day, tomatoes are a staple of Italian cuisine. A fibre-rich fruit, the tomato is also high in vitamin C, which helps maintain health bones and tissues. Along with C, vitamin K is also abundant within tomatoes. Once again, important for healthy bones, Vitamin K also promotes correct blood clotting. Our Tomato salad with Mozzarella, Avocado & Basil is a fabulous tasting dish, and not to be missed

2. Seafood. Italian cuisine is famed for its used of a diverse variety of fresh seafood. From tuna, to mussels, prawns to octopus, we have a huge variety to offer. Seafood contains a variety of vitamins and minerals. High protein, but low fat, seafood is especially good for those counting the calories. Eating a diet containing seafood helps lower your cholesterol, as well as reducing your risk of heart disease. For the maximum benefit, try to to eat fish at least twice a week

3. Garlic. While good for keeping vampires at bay, garlic has a wide variety of health benefits, and luckily for you, is a staple of Italian food. Garlic can promote the immune system, helping to keep you fighting fit. Garlic also contains Vitamin C, manganese and selenium. There has been a variety of evidence to show garlic’s usefulness when it comes to lowering blood pressure, keeping cholesterol low and even helping prevent certain types of cancer. For a garlic burst, try our Penne Spicy Chicken with Garlic, Chilli, Roasted Peppers and Olives in a Tomato Sauce.

4. Olive Oil. This little number is again, a base ingredient for many Italian classics. It’s saturated fats help lower the bad type of cholesterol, while boosting the positive variety.

5. Wholegrains. Featuring heavily in traditional Italian cuisine, wholegrains pack a punch when it comes to providing a range of health benefits. Once again, fibre rich, helping promote a health digestion system, antioxidants and vitamin can also be sourced from this food. When eaten regularly wholegrains can help maintain a healthy heart, as well as reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes, and some cancers too.

6. Social Benefits. For our final reason, let’s also consider the positive aspects. Italian food is all about sharing, eating together and celebrating friends & family. Our platters and sharing boards are a great way of bonding together to break bread. Eating like this, as a group is wonderful soul food, and help us maintain and develop life-long relationships.

There we have it, 6 ways in which an Italian diet can promote a healthy lifestyle. As with all things in life, eating in balance and moderation is key. Not sure where to start at home? Our A la carte menu has a wide range of delicious options, perfect for weekday working lunches or weekend celebratory dinners.

Five Classic Italian Meals That Are Easy to Prepare

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Nobody does food like the Italians, whether its pasta, pizza, desserts or risotto. And the best thing is that at its heart, Italian cooking is wonderfully simple.

No matter how fancy a recipe is, it always has a simple base to work off, making it easy for anyone to try at home.

Here are some of the classic Italian dishes which you can try for yourself at home, without needing a Michelin star.

Carbonara
Carbonara is a true Italian classic, but the version that you’ve tried in Italian restaurants around the UK is probably not true carbonara.

Our team at Bella Cosa, based in Canary Wharf, love their Italian food and have found many British restaurants often add unnecessary ingredients such as cream, onions, mushrooms and most bizarrely to Italians, chicken.

Instead, a proper Italian carbonara should simply contain pancetta, eggs, hard cheese and black pepper.

Recipe from BBC Good Food

Pizza Margherita
We can’t make a list of Italian dishes without including a pizza and the Margherita is the classic basis that every other pizza comes from.

For the base, pour your flour into a large bowl and stir in yeast and salt. Then make a well and pour in 200ml of warm water and olive oil, before bringing together until you’ve got a soft dough which you can knead until smooth and set aside.

For the sauce, mix up passata, basil and crushed garlic, which you can leave to stand while you roll out the dough into your base (this should be left thin as it will rise in the oven).

Finally, smooth the sauce over the base and scatter with cheese and tomato and bake at 220˚C for about eight to ten minutes.

Recipe from The Great British Bake Off

Pesto
Pesto is a classic Italian sauce which is super easy to mix with pasta for a quick and simple meal.

Start out by reducing garlic and pine nuts into a cream using a pestle and mortar before adding dried basil leaves and salt.

A mixture of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Pecorino cheese is then added, with a dash of extra-virgin olive oil, then stored in a jar or other air-tight container to be left for up to a week, ready to be added to your choice of pasta.

Recipe from Jamie Oliver

Tiramisu
If there’s one Italian dessert that’s more well-known than any others (and super easy to make) it’s tiramisu.

To make it, all you need are some finger biscuits, egg yolks, sugar, coffee, mascarpone cheese and cocoa powder (liqueur and egg whites can also be added).

All you need to do is layers the ingredients up in a bowl or cake tin and leave to chill, simple as that!

Recipe from Delia Online

Chocolate and Ricotta Cake
Another simple Italian dessert which is a little less known than tiramisu is an authentic chocolate and ricotta cake.

Best of all, these impressive sponges can be made in under an hour too. All you need to do is whisk up some ricotta and sugar, adding the eggs one by one.

Sift flour and baking powder and stir well, before finally stirring in butter, vanilla and chopped chocolate. Pour into a cake tin and bake for about 30 minutes, leave to cool and you’re done!

Recipe from AllRecipes

If you aren’t sure which one to try out, visit our restaurant to try some out for yourself from our delicious menu or perhaps our special offers

A Beginner’s Guide to Pasta – The Italian Way!

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Pasta is a staple of Italian cuisine and one of the most versatile foods on the planet. Whether it’s spaghetti and meatballs, Bolognese, ravioli or gnocchi, there’s seemingly no end to the uses of pasta!

Best of all, it’s really simple to prepare too, making it a favourite with cooks of all ability levels.

We’re going to take a look at some of the many different types of pasta and offering up some tips and tricks to get it just right.

Varieties

  • Agnolotti – Like a smaller version of ravioli, agnolotti are small packages, usually containing meat or vegetables and is typically found in the Piedmont region.
  • Conchiglie – As the name suggests, this pasta is in the shape of a conch shell and it’s great in a sauce, as the sauce is captured in the shell.
  • Farfalle – These little bows are popular with kids and are often seen in salads and soups.
  • Fettuccine – A slightly wider version of tagliatelle, this thick pasta works well in a meat sauce.
  • Fusilli – One of the most popular variations of pasta, fusilli are a small spiral pasta, seen in many popular dishes.
  • Linguine – Literally translating to ‘little tongues’, linguine is like a flatter version of spaghetti and holds sauce slightly better.
  • Macaroni – Dried, slightly curled tubes which are best known for their use in the American dish, macaroni and cheese.
  • Orecchiette – Known as ‘little ears’, these small, curved pieces usually come with thick and chunky sauces.
  • Pappardelle – Falling somewhere between lasagne and tagliatelle, pappardelle is usually served with a heavy meat sauce.
  • Penne – Another very popular variation, penne is very easy to eat, with medium sized tubes cut off diagonally at either end.
  • Ravioli – These small squares are usually filled with vegetables or meat.
  • Rigatoni – Large, ribbed tubes which capture chunky meat sauces.
  • Spaghetti – Probably the most popular shape of pasta available, spaghetti are long round straws which are used in dishes such as carbonara and Bolognese.
  • Tagliatelle – These ribbon-like strands are commonly used in many meat dishes.
  • Tortellini – Shaped like a ring, tortellini is stuffed with either meat, cheese or vegetables and served in a sauce.
  • Vermicelli – Known as ‘little worms’, vermicelli is a very thin strand which is usually used in lighter sauces.

How to Cook
While cooking pasta may seem simple, there’s actually a lot more to it than you might think. The team here at Bella Cosa have put together some tips for their method for cooking pasta the Italian way,

1.Fill a large saucepan with about 1 litre of water for every 100g of pasta you’re using and use about 10g of salt for every litre of water.
2.Boil the water first, then add the pasta and simmer uncovered.
3.Drain when cooked to the desired level but save some water in case it’s needed for your sauce.
4.Mix the sauce in until the pasta is evenly coated rather than spooning on top.
5.The pasta should soak up all of the sauce with very little left over.

Now that you know how it’s done, check out the pasta recipes at BBC Good Food for some inspiration on where to get started.

Want to try out some of our favourite recipes for inspiration? Take a look at our menu and book a table so we can introduce you to authentic Italian cooking.