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Two Recipes with Tomatoes and a Walk in the Park

Two Recipes with Tomatoes | Naturally Epicurean

Spring is blossoming. Finally the temperature is getting warmer and during the day being outside and allowing the sun kiss our chins is just amazing. I too feel the birds and the bees and whenever I can I head to Sant' Elena, hope to find a free bench, possibly under the sun, and read.

In fact, this is more or less what I did the other day. I left the house latish, around 10 am, and went on my mission. From my house in Ruga Giuffa, I went inwards passing by Chiesa dei Greci and Salizzada Sant' Antonio, reaching Riva deli Schiavoni at the height of Ca' di Dio, where the big groups of tourists don't seem to arrive (at least for now). Although this is the route I follow almost every morning when I go jogging, I never seem to get tired of it. On the right the usual sight of San Servolo, and in front of me water and stones. Crossing the bridge I resist the temptation of stopping at Gelateria Pinguino, and go straight to Via Garibaldi to do some food shopping.

I love Via Garibaldi, as it resembles a small little world of its own, in the sense that there is a strong presence of locals and many shops addressed to them (although, I have to admit that in the last three months quite a few new bars and eateries have sprouted from nothing). When there, I usually shop from the boat, not only because the veg is delicious, but also because one of the two green-grocers is the father of a girl who was in the same class as me in elementary and middle high school. Anyway, I bought a variety of tomatoes, a couple of leeks and a few more things, then I went to Caffe la Serra to collect the paper bags for recycling and drink a quick coffee standing.

Two Recipes with Tomatoes | Naturally Epicurean
Two Recipes with Tomatoes | Naturally Epicurean

Caffè la Serra is managed by a co-op and it's a place I go to quite often. Divided between green-house and cafeteria, I find it extremely relaxing. They also organise concerts and workshops and occasionally host exhibitions, the latest being the one showcasing the watercolours by Venetian artist Luigi Divari.

Once finished the coffee, I walked through the Giardini park, inhabited by half-hidden statues, and finally arrived in Sant' Elena, where I was so lucky to find a free bench! Before reaching it, I stopped at the open bookcase shaped as a small house and hanged on a tree, to see if there were any interesting books I could bring home. I don't know who built it, but this outdoor book crossing is really nice and the last time I came I found a crime story by Rex Stout for dad and Carofiglio's latest book for Vito, which I was very happy about.

I relaxed for a while and then walked around the island. Excluding the area around the church, most of Sant'Elena was built in the 1920s. I would describe it as a quiet residential neighborhood immersed in the green, excellent location to see the sunset and perfect for people with kids and/or dogs. In the park there is a playground, a small basketball court and other training equipment.

Two Recipes with Tomatoes | Naturally Epicurean
Tomato and thyme salad | Naturally Epicurean

Once home, I started preparing lunch. Two simple and quick recipes with tomatoes: a tomato salad and a delicious dish of gnocchi with tomatoes, capers and breadcrumbs.

I had made the gnocchi the previous afternoon and was really looking forward to tasting them!

We enjoyed everything. A lovely lunch, perfect conclusion to an easy-going morning spent wandering in the park. Let me know if you like it!

Gnocchi with tomatoes, capers and breadcrumbs | Naturally Epicurean
Gnocchi with tomatoes, capers and breadcrumbs | Naturally Epicurean


Easy, Vegan, Summer


Ingredients for 2 (as a starter):

250 gr small tomatoes (cherry or date)

15 gr pine nuts

some thyme

e.v.o. oil

black pepper (optional)



1. Wash the tomatoes under fresh water and slice lengthwise in 4. Put into a bowl.

2. Toast the pine nuts on a heated pan for a couple of minutes and add to the salad.

3. Sprinkle some thyme, grind some black pepper, add a pinch of salt and dress with e.v.o.oil.


Ingredients (for 2):

For the gnocchi:

125 gr semolino flour

450 ml full fat milk

50 gr butter

2 yolks

a little bit of rocket salad

a pinch of salt

For the sauce:

15/20 date tomatoes

1 clove of garlic

1 Tbsp capers

1 Tbs breadcrumbs



1. For the gnocchi: heat the milk and butter in a small pot, add 1 of the egg yolks and whisk. Add the semolino flour and keep whisking until you get a dense texture, then transfer into a bowl and add the second yolk, the roughly chopped rocket salad, and work the dough until it becomes malleable. Transfer onto a floured flat surface, form a ball and then divide it into pieces. Roll them (sausage shape) out, cut the gnocchi and pass them on the wooden gnocchi board using a knife and moving from bottom up.

2. For the sauce: slice the tomatoes in 4, heat a pan, add a few drops of e.v.o.oil and a crushed clove of garlic. When the oil starts popping add the tomatoes and the capers. Stir, cover the pan and lower the heat. Cook for about 8/10 minutes.

Bring a pot of water to the boil, add sea salt and pour in the gnocchi. When they come to top they are ready. With a skimmer, transfer them to the pan with the sauce and add a little bit of the cooking water. Heat the pan, toss the gnocchi and add the breadcrumbs.

Serve and enjoy!

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