• Silvia Colloca shares her family recipes on the brand-new series. (Cook Like an Italian)Source: Cook Like an Italian
Food writer and passionate home cook Silvia Colloca feels most Italian when she is in her kitchen.
18 Dec 2019 - 4:22 PM  UPDATED 20 May 2020 - 12:03 AM

Food writer and passionate home cook Silvia Colloca feels most Italian when she is in her kitchen. She still bakes with her mother, shares good food with friends and of course, cooks for her family. But if you don’t have a treasured dowry of Italian home cooking know-how passed on to you from generations of Nonnas and Mammas, relax, because Silvia does and she’s ready to share it.

Catch the series here on SBS On Demand.


Episode 1

In the first episode of the series, Silvia starts with the basics. How do Italian home cooks shop for pantry staples and fresh produce? After visiting an Italian deli that's been running since the 1960s and her local fruit and veg shop, Silvia prepares a rustic Tuscan chickpea pasta for her daughter Luna. She then bakes two savoury schiacciata breads and makes her mother’s apple and mascarpone cake. Silvia proves that when an Italian pantry is well stocked you only need a few fresh ingredients to create simple yet memorable meals.

Apple, mascarpone and cinnamon cake

The mascarpone gives the cake a creamy density and moistness and a beautiful zest when mixed with the lemon.

Gluten-free schiacciata

Resembling a focaccia, these yoghurt flatbreads are topped with vine tomatoes, chilli and ricotta on one loaf and potato and anchovy on the other.

Pasta and chickpeas with Tuscan cabbage (pasta e ceci con cavolo nero) 

Using passata for the sauce gives it a thick, soup-like consistency and yields a richer bowl of pasta.

Did someone say polenta party?

Episode 2

Family recipes are an eternal source of happiness for Italians, and in this episode, Silvia shares her family’s most cherished meals. Starting with her Nonna’s Sunday lunch spectacular, a rich sausage stew served at the table over a giant bed of soft polenta. Plus a timeless family favourite, pasta with potato and provola. Coming in direct from Italy via webcam, Silvia’s mum helps her bake her great aunt’s famous Abruzzese-style waffles.

Pizzelle (Italian stovetop waffles)

I like these served simply with a dust of icing sugar but they’re also perfect topped with a dollop of mascarpone and a cascade of fresh berries.

Nonna Irene’s sausage stew with soft polenta

If it's an Italian nona's recipe, you know that it shall be three things: delicious; comforting and served in a quantity that far exceeds the capacity of ones stomach. This stew served atop a bed of creamy polenta very much hits that mark!

Pasta mista with potatoes, pancetta and provola

'Pasta mista' means mixed pasta and involves using the leftover bits of pasta from various packets, resulting in a variety of shapes and sizes, stirred through this cheesy sauce.

Episode 3

For Italian home cooks, recipes have never been as important to them in the kitchen as their senses. In this episode nothing Silvia makes will be measured or mixed with kitchen appliances, it’s all hands-on. Starting with some delicious mini pizzas made from leftover bread, and a delicate prawn and lemon risotto that’s so easy to make it's almost zen. Later, her mother’s foolproof yogurt and berry loaf that can be made using only a spoon. Trust your hands and eyes, and these dishes will never fail.

Yoghurt, blackberry and olive oil loaf cake

Rich and moist don't have to mean heavy and unhealthy, and the olive oil and yoghurt power team achieve this perfectly to produce this berry loaf cake.

Risotto with spring peas and prawns

Less is more with this risotto as a handful of simple ingredients bring together a bowl of steaming, costal Italian goodness.

Stale bread pizzette

The toppings on these pizzette can be made from whatever you have on hand. Don’t worry too much about measurements- just go with whatever looks good.

Just look at this cake, honestly.

Episode 4

Bread is sacred in Italy, it’s there at almost every family meal and should never be wasted. Today Silvia shares three delicious ways to repurpose leftover bread, starting with a rustic, healthy orecchiette pasta, a baked fish dish with toasted bread and a dessert so spectacular you won't believe it’s made with stale bread.

Baked white fish with bread, cherry tomatoes, olives and capers

The fish fillets sit alongside sourdough bread in this one-pan bake and soaks up the sauce dishing up soft fish and crunchy bread.

Orecchiette with cime di rapa and pangrattato

Orecchiette is an ear-shaped pasta and it's served here with pangrattato, which are essentially fancy breadcrumbs to give it a nice crunch.

Leftover bread cake with chocolate and cherries (torta di pane e cioccolato)

Leave it to the Italians to figure out a way to turn stale, dry bread into a decadent, moist cake that's almost pudding-like.

Episode 5

When Italians gather at the table to celebrate there is always love, chaos and show-stopping things to eat. So, with Silvia’s best friends coming to stay for few days she is out to impress, making one of her Nonna’s most delicious, crowd-pleasing pasta feasts – spaghetti with ricotta meatballs. Later Silvia makes a delicate ricotta and semolina cake that is a true show stopper, and, not to be out-done, Silvia’s friend Rose shares an old Sicilian savoury doughnut recipe.

Spaghettini with ricotta meatballs

Ricotta ensures a delicate texture and moistness in these pork and veal meatballs, served in a rich tomato sauce.

Neapolitan semolina and ricotta cake (migliaccio)

A staple during Naples' Carnival festivities, migliaccio is the region's rustic semolina and lemon cake which is made rich and moist with the ricotta.

Rose's savoury zeppole

Rose's secret weapon in these savoury zeppole is potato, cooked and mixed in with the flour, eggs, yeast and milk. Each savoury doughnut is stuffed with an olive or anchovy before frying for an added surprise inside.

Episode 6

Italians are without a doubt some of the most resourceful home cooks on the planet; they believe in the time-honoured art of cooking once and eating twice. To demonstrate this Silvia makes some ricotta-filled Italian crepes, then using the leftover ingredients reveals how to create a rustic savoury pie from the North of Italy and a hearty baked pasta called pasta al forno.

Crespelle with spinach and ricotta

Crespelle is Italy's version of the French crepe - paper-thin pancakes filled here with spinach and ricotta then baked in a rich tomato sauce.

Pizza rustica with olive oil pastry

Pizza rustica is like a hybrid between a pastry and a calzone, with an unleavened olive oil pastry-like dough encasing anything your heart desires. In this case, a classic spinach and ricotta filling.

Baked rigatoni (Rigatoni al forno)

This baked rigatoni is the perfect fill-in for when you can't decide between a bowl of pasta or lasagne. It meets in the middle with rigatoni tubes wrapped in a rich tomato sauce and a cheesy baked top.

This plate of bucatini amatriciana is just screaming for a fork to dive into it.

Episode 7

Italian culture is famous the world over for its art, history and architecture - but food is integral to an Italian’s identity. Here, Silvia explores how to make the three meals that have become national treasures. She cooks the 1,000-year-old recipe for pasta amatriciana, plus a seafood dish of mussels, rice, and potato from the Puglia region that is largely unknown to the outside world. Lastly, she makes her version of Neapolitan pizza - a pizza dish so cherished its recipe is protected by the European Union and the United Nations.

Frying pan Neapolitan pizza

Baking your pizza in a super-hot cast iron pan will give a beautiful, golden base and crust, though it's hard to mimic a true Neapolitan pizza, which has been named a national treasure of Italy.

Bucatini Amatriciana

Amatriciana is a pasta sauce is made with guanciale and pecorino cheese, with white wine and tomato added, originating from the town of Amatrice. Bucatini Amatriciana has been recognised as one of Italy's national treasures.

Apulian potato, mussels and rice bake (Apulian tiella)

In Apulia, on the heel of Italy's boot, the seas provide the incredible seafood and the locals transform it into masterpieces such as this one-tray mussel bake. It's so good it has been declared a national treasure of Italy.

Episode 8

For Italians, food has always formed a huge part of how they connect with their roots, which means keeping culinary traditions alive is essential. In this episode, Silvia and her dear friend Lina make one of Italy’s most treasured Sunday recipes, the famous ragu napolitana. Plus, Silvia makes an old school antipasto treat- taralli - and direct for Italy, Silvia’s mum joins her via webcam to help her create an incredible dessert using a stale old Panettone.

Ricotta zuccotto

For this Italian treat, a panettone is filled with ricotta, cream and chocolate then chilled and covered in more chocolate for an addictive, decadent dessert.

Handmade tagliatelle with ragú Napoletano

Put some time aside and make both the pasta and the rich ragu from scratch. It's a bit of work, but it's also well worth it.

White wine and olive oil crackers (taralli al vino)

Add these twist-shaped crackers to your cheeseboard or just snack away!

These almond biscuits have an addictive chewy/crumbly texture.

Episode 9

Italian home cooks are masters at the art of speedy meals because their pantries and fridges are often stocked with essential ingredients, which, combined with a little creativity, can become incredible meals in no time. In this episode, Silvia prepares a quick seafood risotto, cooks a Sicilian pesto penne in 8 minutes flat and whips up a lemon and almond biscuit to end the night.

Red lentil penne with Sicilian pesto

Sicilian pesto is made with tomato as well as basil, giving it a light red colour. Here we add ricotta to give it a creamy texture and a lighter flavour.

Italian almond biscuits (ricciarelli)

You can practically taste the Italian grandmotherly love in these gluten-free almond biscuits. Be sure to share them with the passion any good nonna would.

Quick risoni “risotto” with pippies and cherry tomatoes

Bring together this cheat's risotto with fresh pippies cooked in white wine, and cherry tomatoes. 

Episode 10

Italians love tradition in the kitchen, but in this episode, Silvia shares a few new tricks and hacks that Italians have learned to embrace. From a one-pot tuna pasta method even Silvia thought was too good to be true, to a no-knead technique for baking sensational bread, it all seemed too good to be true until she whips out a tomato pasta recipe you’ll be making for years to come.

One pot penne with tuna, olives and capers

Silvia Colloca shares her family one pot pasta recipe which is full of Mediterranean flavour and a breeze to cook (and clean up).

Casarecce with roasted tomatoes and burrata

The tomatoes are roasted before having the pasta mixed through to bring through the juices and add an exceptional flavour.

Overnight bread baked in a cast iron pot

For this recipe you don’t need to preheat the oven. Once you put the pot in, you turn the oven on to full heat and let the delightful smell fill your home.


Find Silvia Colloca sharing secrets from her very own kitchen each Thursday at 8:30pm on SBS Food from 8 January to 11 March 2020 and later on SBS On Demand. Head to the website for recipes, articles, tips and more or watch from episode one below.