Delis are one of my favourite haunts whether it be our local stand-alone or the deli section of the supermarket. There’s always some new delight worth checking or old favourites to savour again.

I’m amazed at the selection of pastas. A new variety for me is a gluten-free winner from Italy. The home of traditional durum wheat pastas is changing with the times to cater for international dietary preferences. I chose a gluten-free, vegan pappardelle prepared from corn and rice flour. It takes less time to cook than traditional pappardelle, the taste is moreish while the texture is very similar.

Pancetta [pronounced pan-cheh-tuh] is an Italian-style bacon cured with salt and spices but not smoked. I’ve found simmering it quickly in a little water before using in dishes removes some of the salt.

Delis offer an awesome choice of olives. Some of the more popular offerings are: Kalamata olives — meaty and almond-shaped they originated from the Greek town of Kalamata; Spanish green olives stuffed with pimento (sweet red pepper) or almonds or garlic or feta; and Nicoise olives — which have excellent taste and are favoured by the French for spreads.  

If you have a taste for something different there’s an addictive assortment of sauces, marinades and rubs at your local deli.


I used a gourmet seasoning for mushrooms from New Zealand’s Wild Fennel Company. It contains nutmeg, oregano, thyme, flaky sea salt and chilli.

6 small portobello mushrooms 
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed 
1/4 soft breadcrumbs 
2 teaspoons gourmet seasoning for mushrooms
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup ricotta, sieved 
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
2 tablespoons each: freshly chopped parsley, finely grated cheddar cheese 

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly oil a baking tray. 

Remove and finely chop the stems from the mushrooms.

Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a small frying pan. Add the chopped stems and sauté until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant then add the breadcrumbs. Cook until golden.  

Brush the mushroom caps all over with the remaining olive oil sprinkle both sides with the gourmet seasoning. Place on an oven tray.

Combine the parmesan, ricotta, thyme, parsley and mushroom stem mixture in a bowl. Fill the mushroom caps with the stuffing and top with the grated cheddar. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden. Serves 4-6 as a side or 2 as a light meal.


The Italian gluten-free pasta I used is prepared from corn and rice flour and requires very little cooking.

Sauce: 50g pancetta
1 1/2 cups broad beans
2 tablespoons each: basil leaves, mint leaves, Italian parsley, roughly chopped 
1 clove garlic, crushed
6 tablespoons olive oil
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 cup rocket or baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup cream
finely grated rind and juice 1 lemon
Pasta: 250g gluten-free pappardelle

Thinly slice the pancetta into strips. Simmer in water in a medium-sized saucepan for 1 minute. Lift out and drain well. Place aside.

Boil the broad beans for 1 minute. If preferred, slip the skins off to reveal the bright green colour. Place aside.

Place the basil, mint, parsley, garlic and 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a small food processor and whizz until a paste forms.

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan. Add the spring onions and broad beans. Sizzle for a minute. Add the pancetta and a 1/2 cup of water. Simmer for 1 minute. Add the rocket and the herb paste. Stir well then stir in the lemon rind and juice then finally the cream.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in a large saucepan of boiling water until just tender or to taste, about 5 minutes. Drain well and add to the sauce in the frying pan. Serves 2.


This tapenade makes a superb topping for crostini or crackers. There are 250g of drained olives in a 470g jar.

250g pitted black Kalamata olives 
3 tablespoons capers
3 canned anchovies in olive oil, drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 medium cloves garlic, crushed
pinch chilli flakes

Rinse and drain the olives and capers. Place in a blender or food processor.

Add the anchovies, olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes. Process until a paste is formed. Place in an airtight container. Can be refrigerated for up to 4 days. Makes 1 1/2 cups. Serves about 8.


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