Bedford has a unique Italian link due to the arrival in the 1960’s of thousands of workers from the Puglia region of Italy. They initially came to work at the Marston Valley Brick Company, but some stayed and made new lives, resulting in Bedford containing a strong Italian strand within its DNA, two generations down the line. This interesting legacy means that one in seven inhabitants is of Italian descent.
Sifting through the myriad recipes from this great cuisine, we pick three classics:
1. Orecchiettiwith tomato sauce: A speciality of the Pugliaregion, the heel of Italy, this pasta sauce is best made with super ripe tomatoes. Add a delicious broccoli, chilli and anchovy sauce and pair with Orecchietti or ‘little ears’ pasta which is perfect for catching the ingredients in a thicker sauce. This dish works equally well with a pure tomato only ragu, or sauce.
2. Affogatoal caffe: Hold the front page, someone has combined two of the best products ever, coffee and ice cream! Simply put a scoop of top quality vanilla ice cream in a bowl or small glass, Madagascan vanilla works extremely well. Then pour a shot of good espresso on the top. This needs to be served immediately, and the vanilla ice cream stirred into the hot coffee. Heaven in a glass.
3. Pizza Margherita. Pizza no longer has to equal a frozen, cardboard disc with meagre toppings of indiscernible meat. Fresh pizza dough can be turned into a fabulous, tasty and simple meal, even by a novice cook. Combine bread, yeast, salt and olive oil to make the dough, with no need to let it rise if you’re aiming for a thin-crust. Alternatively buy ready made from an Italian deli. Make a passata, garlic and basil sauce for topping. Roll out the dough thinly on a floured surface. Top and bake at a high heat for 8-10 minutes. Far quicker and healthier than any delivery.