Joe Trivelli’s recipes for farro and peas, red chilli bomba, cauliflower rigatoni and citrus cake | Italian food and drink

Joe Trivelli’s recipes for farro and peas, red chilli bomba, cauliflower rigatoni and citrus cake | Italian food and drink

For these recipes I’ve looked into the store cupboard and fridge at home for meals that suit my mood when I require comfort with extra zing. Something to wake me from hibernation, despite using the same ingredients I’ve been eating for months.

A trip to a farm in Scotland inspired a broth of sorts, while a sauce made from chillies started with a batch snuck into our fridge by a friend from Rome as a dinner party gift. I discovered it some days later and have had a version on the go ever since. I have eventually settled on this one with a whole piece of lemon as a favourite. Use it to liven up everything.

Farro and peas in sausage broth

You need a good robust sausage made with 100% meat that will impart flavour to the broth and stand up to a long cook. Serves 4

onion 1
olive oil 1 tbsp, plus some to serve
salt a pinch
garlic 4 cloves
carrots 200g (2)
celery with leaves 200g
Italian sausages 500g
stock 600ml, chicken or otherwise
bay leaf 1
sage 1 sprig
fennel seeds a pinch
pearled farro (spelt) or barley 100g
split fava beans and/or green peas 50g
split yellow peas 50g
plum tomato 1, from a tin (or a squeeze of tomato concentrate)

Chop the onion and in a heavy-bottomed casserole pot sweat in 1 tbsp of olive oil with a pinch of salt for about 5 minutes.

Peel the garlic, wash and cut the carrots and celery into 3cm pieces, reserving the nicest celery leaves. Add to the pot, along with the sausages, stock and ½ litre of water, as well as the bay, sage and fennel seeds and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat so that it happily bubbles away for 45 minutes. Skim the surface with a spoon from time to time.

Add the farro or barley and green peas and/or fava beans, and the split peas and plum tomato. Cook for another 30 minutes or until soft. Add the celery leaves for the final 5 minutes. Serve in warmed bowls with a little extra olive oil.

Red chilli bomba

Simple but useful: red chilli bomba. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Based on a recipe from Puglia, this is an incredibly simple but useful sauce to have in the fridge. I like it on toasted cheese sandwiches, on pizza, boiled cabbage and fennel – anything really. You can use more chilli, or leave the seeds in if you prefer to make it hotter. Makes a 150ml jar

red chilli 50g, fresh
red onion ½
garlic 2 cloves
capers 20g, salted
lemon ¼, unwaxed
sundried tomato 50g, either from a jar or reconstituted in a little hot water
olive oil 90ml
oregano 1 tsp, dried

The night before you make the sauce, remove the top of the chillies, cut in 2, deseed with a teaspoon and slice. Peel and finely slice the onion and garlic. Place in a small bowl with the salted capers and a touch more salt.

The next day, drain and blend these ingredients with the lemon, pith and all (but skin and pips removed), tomatoes and olive oil. Once whizzed, add the oregano and keep in the fridge.

Cauliflower and mint rigatoni

‘On the table in moments’: cauliflower and mint rigatoni. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

Super simple and on the table in moments. Best garlicky, but you can adjust. Serves 4

garlic 3 cloves
olive oil 4 tbsp, plus extra for drizzling
dried chilli ½, crushed (or a good grind of black pepper)
salt a pinch
tomato passata 500g, or whizzed tinned tomatoes
cauliflower 300g
short pasta 400g
sharp hard cheese 60g, grated (pecorino romano or my favourite, salted ricotta)
mint a few fresh leaves

Finely chop 3 cloves of garlic and fry in 4 tbsp of olive oil in a wide pan, over a medium-low heat. After 1 minute stir in the chilli and a little salt, and then add the tomato. Bring to the boil, turn the heat down low, and simmer for 12 minutes, stirring frequently.

Carefully pulse the cauliflower in a food processor – or shave the cauliflower into slivers a few millimetres thick and then chop it through again. Add to the sauce and cook for 10 minutes. Check the seasoning.

Boil the pasta in plenty of salted water, drain and add to the sauce with a few tbsp of pasta water, half the cheese and a drizzle of olive oil. Give it a good stir. Shred the mint and serve the pasta with the mint and any remaining cheese scattered over the top.

Citrus cake with zest and cream

‘It happens to be gluten-free’: citrus cake with zest and cream. Photograph: Romas Foord/The Observer

This uses the whole of the citrus fruits in two stages. First as zest in the cake itself, then, once candied, in slices to embellish the dish. The cake is, however, perfectly respectable simply dusted in icing sugar. It also happens to be gluten-free. Serves 6

lemon 1, unwaxed
lime 1, unwaxed
orange 1, unwaxed
vanilla pod ½, finely chopped
butter 125g, softened
golden caster sugar 225g
salt a pinch
eggs 2
rice flour 125g
baking powder 1 tsp
milk 2 tbsp
double cream 250ml
flaked almonds 50g
ground almonds 100g

Heat the oven to 180C, gas mark 6.

Zest the whole lemon and lime, but only half the orange. Very finely chop the vanilla and beat with the butter, 150g of the sugar, a pinch of salt and the various zests, then add the eggs one by one. Beat for 5 minutes until pale and fluffy. Mix the flour and ground almonds with the baking powder and incorporate it on a low speed before finally mixing in the milk. You will achieve a relatively thick batter.

Line a 30cm-long loaf tin with baking paper and bake for 35-40 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and allow to cool.

Slice all 3 citrus fruits into pieces about ¼ cm thick. Place them in a pan, cover with cold water and bring to the boil.

Drain, change the water and boil them again. Let them cook for 5 minutes, then drain and return once more to the pot with the remaining 75g of sugar and 75ml of water.

Bring to a gentle simmer and turn the heat down to a low setting. Let it slowly cook for 45 minutes or until soft, slightly translucent and the liquid has turned to syrup.

Whip the cream. Toast the almonds.

Serve slices of the cake heaped with whipped cream and topped with the citrus slices and the toasted almonds.

Joe Trivelli is joint head chef of London’s River Café (rivercafe.co.uk)