If we told you that Italian food is the most popular food in the UK, would you be surprised?

Did you think Indian and Chinese would rank higher?

A YouGov survey has revealed that Italian food actually beat all comers, not just in the UK, but around the world. Granted, the survey only involved 25,000 people from 24 countries, so it’s not the most comprehensive study ever carried out, but from a chef’s point of view, we would wholeheartedly agree.

The reason for this is the sheer choice Italian food gives you. Don’t get us wrong, we love Indian and Chinese food and it’s effectively what keeps us in a job here at SK, but when you drilldown, it basically just entails changing a few spices and noodles here and there.

Before we get any correspondence from outraged lovers of Chinese and Indian food, we are obviously engaging in a bit of leg pulling here to make the case for Italian food given it’s our focus this month.

For decades, pasta and pizza has personified Italian food. A home-cooked spaghetti bolognese (more on that shortly) or lasagne is a weekly staple in millions of homes and the average person puts down 731 pizzas in their lifetime, apparently”

But Italian food is now so much more than about pizza and pasta.

Now, if you visit a decent Italian restaurant, you are just as likely to be able to choose from authentic, quality regional products, such as veal shank stew (Osso Bucco), chickpea fritters (Panelle), scallion onions wrapped in pancetta (Cipollate con Pancetta) or ice cream in a brioche bun (Brioche con Gelato), to name a few hundred!

And if you are still drawn to pizza and pasta, keep it authentic, so no pepperoni pizza (that’s not Italian) or spaghetti bolognese (because Italian’s don’t have spaghetti with meat sauce and this is known as ragu anyway), or garlic bread (it’s called bruschetta in Italy and is very different – see recipe.

Sorry, if we have shattered any illusions there!

We’re keeping the recipe simple this week but it also complements the start of vegan month in November too. See, two for the price of one!

Warm tomato bruschetta

  • Focaccia bread
  • 410g strong white bread flour
  • 7g dry acting yeast
  • 8g caster sugar
  • 305g warm water
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil (plus 15g extra to finish)
  • 5g sea salt
  • 3-4 rosemary sprigs

Place all ingredients in a kitchen mixing bowl with the dough hook attached and mix on slow/medium speed for about 10 minutes, the dough should come away from the sides be very elastic. Place in a metal bowl cover with a damp tea towel and leave somewhere warm to prove and double in volume.

After the dough has proved tip out on to a floured surface knead for a minute and then place in round baking tin 23cmx5cm spread the dough out by first pouring the extra oil on top and using your fingers to massage the dough to fill the tin. Sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary. Allow to prove again till doubled in volume then bake at 200oc for 20 minutes.

Tomato compote

  • 360g of vine cherry tomatoes
  • 30g extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Sugar

Using a sharp knife finely dice the tomatoes into a bowl sprinkle with the sugar, salt, oil and pepper and leave to marinade for 10 minutes. Then put a pan on the heat get it very hot then take off the heat and put the tomatoes in just get warm. Finish by slicing the bread and chargrilling in a pan top with tomato compote and fresh basil.

Chris Brown
About Chris Brown
Sous Chef of SK Foods.
Your food. Our Passion.