I love real Italian cooking and don’t do nearly enough of it. Many traditional Italian recipes not only taste good but have the benefit of being vegetarian or nearly so, and not too fattening.

I expect there are as many versions of the Tuscan soup ribollita (reheated soup) as there are cooks. This is based on Ursula Ferrigno’s recipe in Bringing Italy Home, and I like it because it’s vegetarian. If you are a confirmed carnivore, you could easily add a ham hock or some bacon. As the name suggests, it’s best reheated the day after you make it.

Vegetables can be varied according to taste and availability. I’m sure in Tuscany it always has cavolo nero in it, but you can’t get that here, so I always use dark green Savoy cabbage.

Oil: you must use the best you can get for drizzling over the top; you can get away with slightly less good for the cooking, but it should be extra-virgin.

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Pasta e fagioli

This classic Italian pasta dish is a good one for the pressure cooker, and substantial enough to serve as a balanced one-pot meal.

Tip: if you want to make a large quantity and freeze/reheat some, extract the part you are going to keep before you add the pasta. If you don’t, it will soak up too much liquid and go all stodgy.

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Tarte provençale

What I like about marmiton.org isn’t just the fact that among its thousands of recipes there are bound to be at least half a dozen using the ingredients you have to hand. It’s also the comments from visitors improving or adapting the recipe. The original recipe for this tart (which I chose because I had a surfeit of mozzarella to use up) would have turned out a soggy mess — it involved boiling the courgettes and then putting them in a raw pastry case! But by acting on several suggestions from other people I turned out a tasty tart that makes a pleasant change from our usual cheese, tomato and mustard tart.

It’s important to do all the vegetable preparation in order to eliminate as much water as possible, otherwise you will end up with a watery filling and soggy pastry.

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Tarte à la moutarde

Ever since I discovered it in one of those 50p recipe books from Sainsbury’s, this has been one of my favourite recipes. It features fairly often in our repertoire — great for days when you are short of ideas or time for shopping, because most of the ingredients are generally hanging around in the storecupboard or fridge. And we never get tired of it. Extra bonus: it’s vegetarian.

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