Recipes – Villa Elvira

Incorporating the same special approach of combining food, wine and culture as in our organized Culinary and Cultural programmes,  helps you create and host a unique and memorable event for Special Interest Groups.

With a long and successful  background in marketing management, our staff is sensitive to the needs of our clients and to the planning requirements for incentive tours and special interests activities.


Liguria Recipes

Pesto Genovese


  • 4 cups packed basil leaves, washed
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra if needed
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano
  • salt and pepper to taste

So what’s in a pesto? Well, if you buy a supermarket version in a small glass tub then probably potatoes, sugar and lots of preservatives. Although tasty, its not a patch on the real thing.Pesto should be considered one of the most satisfying raw bases for sauce in Italian cooking. The magic ingredients are basil ‘basilico’, garlic ‘aglio’, pine nuts ‘pinoli’, Italian extra virgin olive oil and cheese, either a pecorino or parmigiano reggiano, and that’s it. Like much of the best Italian food, it is not the so much the preparation that matters but the choice of the raw ingredients. The classic pesto is prepared firstly with the most tender of basil leaves, not too big nor too small, which are beaten in a marble mortar and pestle together with the garlic. Once a paste the pine nuts are added followed by the olive oil. Finally the cheese, strictly 50% pecorino and 50% parmigiano but they can be varied according to taste. During the summer we grow our own basil from seed and lob all the ingredients into a food processor. It comes out fine and is great with a freshly boiled spaghetti.

  • Place the basil, garlic, pine nuts, in a food processor. Purée until coarse. With the motor running gradually add the olive oil until the mixture is fluid. Turn out into a bowl and toss with the Parmigiano. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with your pasta of choice, and adjust the seasoning.

Potato Gnocchi


  • 21/2 pounds potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 11/2 cups flour, plus extra
  • nutmeg
  • 1 egg (optional)

Place potatoes in a large pot over high heat and cover with cold water. When boiling, add salt. Cook potatoes, skins on, for about 20 minutes, or until tender when pierced with a knife. While potatoes are still hot, peel and press them through a ricer onto a clean, flat work surface dusted with flour. Allow to cool, and sprinkle with 11/2 cups flour. Using your hand and a dough scraper, combine potatoes and flour until a dough forms. Add a pinch of nutmeg, and continue to knead. Add egg only if dough fails to come together. Knead to incorporate.

Cut dough into thirds, and using 1/3 at a time, roll dough into long, even snakes. Cover the unused dough with plastic wrap while you work so it doesn’t dry out. Cut the dough snakes into walnut-sized pieces, and roll each piece off the grooves of a gnocchi board or the tines of a fork to create a grooved texture. Cook the gnocchi in batches in boiling water just until they float, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon.

Swordfish Tagliata with Ligurian Sweet and Vegetables

  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 2 cups grape seed oil (or corn)
  • 2 pounds swordfish, center cut loin
  • 1 teaspoon each mixed chopped herbs (parsley-thyme, oregano, etc)
  • salt
  • 3 cups red wine vinegar, divided
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 Holland eggplant, peeled and skin and inside separated
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed and divided
  • 1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped

In a large saucepan, combine the extra-virgin olive oil and grapeseed oil and place over a low heat. (The oil doesn’t have to be very hot). Salt the swordfish, and poach the fish in oil for one minute on each side. Take the fish out of the oil, rub with the mixed herbs and roll in plastic wrap. In two separate pots, add the red wine vinegar to water and cook the eggplant, the skin in one pot and the white part in another until both are soft. Remove the eggplant from each pot, keeping the skin and the inside separate. Put on two separate cutting boards and add to each the sugar, garlic, mint, salt and remaining red wine vinegar. This is your red and white eggplant caviar. To serve, unwrap the swordfish and slice into thin pieces. Put on a plate, and scoop the red eggplant caviar on one side and the white eggplant caviar on the other.

Serves 4

Lamb cutlets with black Olives

  • 4 lamb cutlets
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 60 ml. extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • 1 cup black olives, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 pinch spicy chili flakes
  • 1/2 lemon

Sprinkle the cutlets with the flour. Pour into a terracotta casserole the olive oil and add the cutlets; fry the meat over medium heat. Add the salt and cook the meat on both sides (about 4 minutes per side). Mince the olives.

Remove some of the olive oil, lower the flame and cover the lamb with the minced olives, add the oregano, and a pinch of spicy chili flakes.

Sprinkle with the lemon juice and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4


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