LA FESTA DELLA MAMMA - step by step instructions

Mother’s day feast

La Festa della Mamma* is, of course, a very important day in Italy. Families come together, young and old, to celebrate these women. Almost uniquely for a feast day in Italy, there are no real special dishes for Mother’s day – instead this is a day when families eat what they like (or at least what La Mamma likes) and drink and eat and talk and celebrate together. Here, we’ve put together a few favoured dishes – for you to share with the mother you live with, or send to the mother you aren’t able to see. Don’t forget to call!

*(in Italy it is always ‘the’ mother, not ‘my’ mother, such is the reverence for this esteemed role, rather like ‘the’ queen)


Trofie with pesto Genovese, green beans & potato 

Pesto Genovese – the basil one – is something everybody loves, or at least, everybody with a soul. It must be fresh-made, and never have been heated (so jarred ones are a no-go), and should be made with fresh basil, Italian pine nuts and sharp pecorino (maybe also parmesan, as in ours).

With regard to the pasta, the perfect shape is trofie – little spiralled squiggles of fresh semolina pasta – or if you must use a dry pasta, linguine might be best. Always in Liguria, potatoes and green beans are cooked with the pasta and tossed in the pesto. This is as charming as it is delicious – the potato and green bean add textural variety, so every mouthful is different enough to be exciting.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Fresh trofie
  • Pesto Genovese
  • Green beans
  • Sliced new potatoes
  • A little grated parmesan


  • Bring a large pan of well-salted (10g/lt) water to the boil
  • Put the trofie into the boiling water. They will take about 10 minutes to cook
  • After the trofie have been cooking for 3-4 minutes, add the potatoes and green beans. Most likely, the potato will take the longest to cook if anything does– but as you near the end of the cooking time start tasting all three components and make sure none are raw
  • At some point in the process, decant the pesto into a bowl and set it above the pasta water for just a moment – not to warm the pesto, but to gently soften it
  • When ready, drain the trofie, potatoes and beans, reserving a little of the water. Add them to the pesto bowl and stir to mix, tasting for seasoning and adding just enough of the pasta water to moisten the dish and emulsify the sauce
  • Serve with a little grated parmesan on top


Butterflied leg of lamb with rosemary, garlic & salsa verde

To my mind, there is little that heralds the arrival of Spring more than the scent of lamb, grilling merrily over open coals. Magnificently delicious, and wonderfully simple, here we serve it with salsa verde, the sharply piquant sauce cutting through the richness of the meat. Delish.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • A slab of de-boned lamb leg, marinated with rosemary, garlic & oil
  • A lemon
  • Salsa verde


  • Let the lamb and salsa verde come up to room temperature
  • Preheat a barbecue to white hot (where the flams have died but the coals are at their hottest) or a griddle or cast iron pan to smoking hot
  • Wipe any excess marinade from the lamb, and season generously with salt & pepper
  • Cook on the barbecue, or griddle pan, until medium-rare – precise timings are impossible and depend on the shape of the piece and the heat of your grill but 6-8 minutes per side should be about right
  • When ready, remove from the heat, squeeze over a little lemon juice, and leave to rest for 10-15 minutes
  • Preheat a serving dish
  • Slice the lamb, and fan out on the dish
  • Spoon the salsa verde alongside, or serve in a separate bowl


Borlotti beans, tomato and basil

Borlotti beans are always a treat. Here, they come with fresh datterini tomatoes, spiked gently with garlic & chilli and perfumed with basil, and you have a difficult choice to make; serve them cool and they are fragrant and refreshing, or heat them up to make them rich and robust.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • Borlotti beans, mixed with raw datterini, olive oil & a little chilli
  • A few leaves of fresh basil


To serve cool:

  • tear the basil into the beans, and stir together
  • Serve

To serve hot:

  • Place the beans in a pan, and bring to a simmer
  • Cook gently for 4-5 minutes, until the tomatoes are softened
  • Remove from the heat, tear in the basil and serve 


Castelfranco & tardivo salad with balsamic & hazelnuts

These are, to my mind, the two most beautiful radicchio of the Veneto. Castelfranco is a pale yellow, with leaves brilliantly mottled with flecks of pink, while tardivo, a forced variety of Treviso, has long thin stalks that curl like a roosters tail. Here we dress them with olive oil and with aged balsamic, and scatter them with wonderful Piedmontese hazelnuts.

Your pack serves two as a side and contains:

  • Some leaves of castelfranco and tardivo
  • Some roasted and roughly chopped hazelnuts
  • a mix of fine balsamic and olive oil


  • Decant the leaves and nuts into a bowl
  • Give the dressing a shake, then pour onto the leaves
  • Season with a pinch of salt, and dress delicately but thoroughly (all manner of implements work for this, but nothing beats using your hands)
  • Place on a plate


Panettone bread & butter pudding

Comforting and delicious, bread & butter pudding is a homely embrace of a dish, softly set custard merging with sweetened stale bread & plump raisins. We use panettone in place of bread, its rich, structural crumb standing up all the better to the custard, and spike the lot with marsala and orange zest.

Your pack serves two and contains:

  • A hefty wedge of bread and butter pudding
  • Some double cream


  • Preheat the oven to 140C (static) or 130C (fan)
  • Place the pudding (in it’s foil) on a suitable tray, and bake for 10 minutes to heat through
  • Remove from the oven, then leave to sit, still wrapped, for a further 5-10 minutes
  • Decant the cream into a jug
  • Unwrap the pudding and serve, pouring the cream over tableside