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Last Updated: Monday, 22 December, 2003, 12:56 GMT
Gennaro Contaldo's Christmas recipes
Gennaro Contaldo
In our final Christmas recipe, celebrity chef Gennaro Contaldo brings us a traditional Italian pudding, Pastiera di Grano.

Find out more on Breakfast at 0840 - and read on for his recipes in full.

Starter: Pumpkin Agnolini


Serves 4 to 6

For the pasta dough

150g Italian '00' flour
2 oz semolina
2 medium eggs

Make the pasta dough first. Mix the flour and semolina together. Make a well in the centre and break in the eggs. Gradually mix the flour with the eggs, then knead with your hands for about five minutes until you get a smooth dough (it should be pliable not sticky). Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and leave for about 30 minutes.

Divide the dough into four portions and put each one through a pasta machine. As the pasta gets thinner, turn down the settings until it's almost wafer thin.

Cut the pasta into rounds with a 3cm cutter and put a small amount of filling into each one. Fold each circle in half to make a pasty shape and press the edges down to seal.

For the filling:

200g pumpkin, cut in 1 inch cubes
200g ricotta
100g parmesan grated
4 x amaretti biscuits, crushed
1 x piece of fruit
Mostarda di cremona, available from good Italian delis, finely chopped
Alternatively, use 1 tablespoon English mustard
salt and pepper.

For the sauce:

7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 x garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x branch rosemary
200g pumpkin, cut into 1 cm strips
salt and pepper. To serve :

Parmesan cheese, grated, optional


First make the pasta according to the recipe and leave to rest.

To make the filling, place the pumpkin on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven (250 degrees centigrade) for about 20 minutes or until soft. Remove and leave to cool.

Remove the pumpkin skin and mash with a fork. Place in a muslin or tea towel and squeeze out the liquid. Keep the liquid for the sauce. Mix together the pumpkin, ricotta, parmesan, crushed amaretti, chopped fruit (or mustard) and season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Roll out the pasta with either a rolling pin or pasta machine. Fill the agnolini or other filled pasta shape with the pumpkin filling. Bring to the boil a large saucepan of slightly salted water. To cook the agnolini, drop into boiling water for about three minutes until al dente - about 4 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the sauce, heat the olive oil in pan, add the garlic cloves and cook until soft, then add the pumpkin strips and sauté' for a couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin juice and rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. If necessary, add a little more liquid by adding some stock. Simmer until the pumpkin is soft.

Add the cooked agnolini to the sauce and cook for a couple of minutes stirring all the time. Stir in the butter to give a creamy consistency. Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve immediately.

Main course: Roast Goose with apples and chestnuts

Serves 6-8


1 goose weighing 4-5kg (you can also use 1 duck weighing 2.5kg)
4 slices of pancetta
6 tablespoons olive oil
I glass red wine
4 carrots, cut lengthways in half
salt and freshly ground black pepper.

For the stuffing

2 tablespoons olive oil
100g pancetta, cubed
1 large onion
giblets from the bird (remove the fat) roughly chopped
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and sage, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 eating apples (cored and cubed)
15 cooked chestnuts, left whole
50g stale bread soaked in white wine and roughly chopped
100ml sweet white wine (eg Sauternes)

For the apples and chestnuts

3-4 eating apples, peeled, cored and halved
250g cooked chestnuts
75ml red wine
knob of butter


First make the stuffing. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and sauté the pancetta (a kind of Italian cubed bacon) and onion for one minute. Then add the giblets and continue to sauté until all the ingredients have softened. Add the herbs and garlic and season with salt and black pepper. Stir in the apples, chestnuts, bread and sweet wine and continue to cook for two minutes.

Take the goose or duck and slide your fingers under the skin at the neck end, gently separating it from the flesh. Lay the slices of pancetta between the skin and the flesh. Pull the skin over the neck opening form both sides to close it and turn the bird upside down. Season the cavity with sale and pepper and fill it with the stuffing, securing either side with wooden toothpicks. Truss up the whole bird with string, so the legs and wings are tightly secured, then season with salt and pepper.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 centigrade. Heat the olive oil in a large roasting tin and put the bird in to seal well all over. Then remove it from the heat and add the wine (be careful at this point: the wine may catch fire). Remove the bird from the tin, pout out the liquid and set it aside. Line the bottom of the tin with carrots, arranged in two lines like a railway track. Place the bird on top (they will stop it sticking to the tin).

Pour in a glass of water, cover with foil and roast for 3-4 hours for goose or 2-3 hours for duck. To check if the bird is cooked, insert a skewer between the breast and leg. The juices will run clear when it is cooked.

Add another glass of water at 40 minutes and another after another 40 minutes. Remove the foil 10 minutes before the you take the bird out and baste the bird.

Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before you carve.

Meanwhile, prepare the apples and chestnuts. Heat half the liquid you set aside earlier in a large frying pan. Add the apples and chestnuts and sauté until browned on each side. Add the remaining liquid and let it bubble until evaporate. Remove from the heat and pour off the excess fat. Place the pan back on the heat, pout in the red wine and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Stir in a knob of butter to thicken the sauce.

Carve and serve immediately with the apple and chestnut mixture.

Dessert: Pastiera di grano

This is a Neapolitan wheat and ricotta tart.


400g pre-cooked wheat
120ml milk
0.5 teaspoon vanilla extract
250g ricotta cheese
5 egg yolks
200g icing sugar (plus a little extra for dusting)
120g mixed candied peel, finely chopped
1.5 tablespoons orange flower water
grated zest of half an orange
2 egg whites

For the pastry

400g Italian fine grade (00) flour
3 eggs
100g caster sugar
150g butter, diced
grated zest of 1 lemon


First make the pastry. Sift the flour directly and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs, sugar, butter and half the lemon zest and lightly blend with your fingertips until you have a smooth dough. Wrap in Clingfilm and chill for an hour, then roll out thinly and line a 25 cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Don't discard the left-over pastry.

Pre-heat the oven to 170 centigrade. Place the milk, wheat, 1 tablespoon of lemon zest and vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Mix well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently until the wheat has absorbed all the liquid. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Mash the ricotta with a fork and beat in the egg yolks until light and fluffy. Sift in the icing sugar and beat until well incorporated, then beat in the candied peel, orange flower water, the last of the lemon zest and the orange zest. Stir in the cooled wheat mixture.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Then fold them carefully into the ricotta and wheat mixture.

Remove the pastry case from the fridge and pour in the mixture. Use the remaining pastry trimmings to make a lattice effect across the top of the tart, and seal the edges of the tart. Bake for 50 minutes until lightly browned but still moist.

Leave to cool, then sift over some icing sugar to decorate

  • These recipes are taken from Gennaro Contaldo's book, Passione, The Italian Cookbook. It is published by Headline. ISBN 0 7553 1118 3

    Gennaro Contaldo's Christmas recipes
    Pumpkin Agnolini

    Gennaro Contaldo's Christmas recipes
    Roast goose with apple and chestnuts

    Pastiera di Grano
    Gennaro shows you how to cook a traditional Italian dessert

    BBC Breakfast



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