Cooking menu for a festive weekend

The holidays, and winter in general, for someone like me, who’s struggled with a cooking and eating disorder most of their life, has always been a trigger, a bittersweet treat, filled with ideals wrapped in red ribbons, panettone and glitter, and a reality that doesn’t always correspond to it.

Winter, for me, is synonymous with baking, warmth and rich dishes, with lush and creamy soups, polenta, cookies and butter cakes, pies, caramelized nuts, warm pastries for the little one. -lunch to brighten up a foggy day, or make a snowy one even more magical.

“Is it worth the calories?” I wonder, echoing Prue Leith, after every episode of The Great British Bakeoff.

Because even today, that I am on the road to recovery, that I am a chef, and that I love cooking, culinary pleasure does not always come naturally to me. In fact, there are times when I don’t think twice about a dish, others; however, when I count the calories in flour and butter, or in a restaurant dessert. Progress, I have learned, not perfection.

So since I started preparing my next cookbook, Eating Again (released in February 2022 with Heliotrope Books), I worked on creating delicious and healthy meals and recipes. It turns out that this is something that works wonders both for my career as a chef and cookbook author, and for my mental and physical health as a woman and mother who wants to protect and protect her. young girl from the sufferings of the past.

My mission, to make healthy indulgence the new black, seems to have done magic on my Instagram community as well. And it is with pure joy that I read their stories after trying the recipes we make together, live, every Monday, on Instagram at 5:00 p.m. PDT (@alicecarbonetench).

So, here is my gourmet and healthy cuisine menu for a festive holiday weekend, for a romantic dinner or a birthday party:

Let’s start with the aperitif, the Italian chicory panzerotti, my take on the fried dough traditionally filled with mozzarella and tomato sauce, typical of the Puglia region, where my father is from. Oh, how I still remember those rich bites from 1989, one hot summer night in Bari, where my paternal aunt, Maria lived.

“But deep-frying is not healthy,” you might think.

And you’re right, that’s why I sauté the dough rather than dipping it in hot oil. And I replace the cheese with another traditional ingredient from Puglia, chicory. There is something about the salted, lightly seared batter and bitter greens that is irresistible.

This dish will please everyone and even the little ones will want more. My 4 year old daughter did, at least. Yes, she ate chicory, and I even put one in her lunch box.

Would you believe me if I told you that with the first bite of my vegetarian Panzerotti, you will fly to Italy with your imagination, in first class?

The main course will not disappoint: a traditional baked dough (pasta al forno) made with tomato sauce and the addition of fennel seeds, peas and butternut squash, as well as dessert, another healthy game on the winter indulgence: a Buttermilk English Scone (vegan) with cranberries, white chocolate and orange zest.

It takes a lot of my time, but I gradually get used to a new concept of personal care, gluttony, culinary ease. And sharing it, for me, is part of the journey, the one that makes me want more and allows me to meet each new challenge.

Italian chicory panzerotti

Ingredients for 8-9 panzerotti:

For the dough:

  • 300 grams all-purpose flour
  • 200 ml. water at room temperature
  • 10 grams of sea salt

For filling:

  • 2 bunches of Italian chicory
  • 1 garlic clove (whole)
  • ¼ cup olives (Taggiasca or Mediterranean olives are best, full of flavor)
  • 2 tablespoons of vinegar capers
  • Extra virgin olive oil and salt to taste
  • Salt flakes to taste


  • Cut off the ends of the chicory, rinse them thoroughly and blanch them in unsalted boiling water for a good 5 minutes. This will remove some of their bitterness. I always boil it in unsalted water because I like to drink the water after draining the vegetables. As my mother and grandmother always reminded me, water is rich in vitamins and detoxifying. And it is fantastic!
  • Drain the greens and set aside.
  • Pit the olives and fry them in extra virgin olive oil with the garlic and capers for a few minutes in a large non-stick pan.
  • With kitchen scissors, chop the longleaf chicory, then add it to the olives and capers. Salt to taste and cook for 5 to 10 minutes. Remove the garlic and set aside.
  • Prepare the dough in a bowl by mixing the flour, water and salt. Form a ball and let stand 10 to 15 minutes.
  • Divide the dough into 8-9 portions.
  • On a floured surface, roll out the first portion of the dough (it should be very elastic) until it is very thin and transparent (as if you were making a strudel). Now brush the thin sheet with extra virgin olive oil and add a spoonful of the chicory garnish. Wrap the dough well, stretching it delicately. Repeat for the remaining 7-8 servings.
  • In the same pan that you used to cook the chicory, add a little extra virgin olive oil and cook your panzerotti until they are golden on each side, using tongues of food.
  • Remove from the heat and season with the salt flakes. Serve hot.
  • These are also great the next day, simply reheated in a toaster oven, but not in the microwave.

Italian baked pasta (Pasta al forno) with fennel seeds, butternut squash and green peas

Winter 2021: at the crossroads of decadence and health

Ingredients for 6 people:

  • 500 grams of your favorite short pasta
  • 2 ½ cups of homemade tomato sauce (I make mine using quality crushed tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt and a pinch of sugar and cook it slowly for 2-3 hours. The longer you cook the tomato sauce, the better it will taste, and the more acidity the tomatoes will lose.)
  • 1 tsp of fennel seeds
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash (I cook cubed mine, in the oven, with olive oil and salt for 45-60 minutes at 400F)
  • 1 cup of organic canned peas
  • 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella
  • 2 tablespoons of oat milk (optional)
  • 1 cup of Parmigiano Reggiano (or vegan Parmesan), grated
  • Extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste
  • Chili flakes (optional)


  • Prepare the tomato sauce (or use store-bought one). You can do this in advance. I usually make a jackpot and freeze it.
  • Cook the butternut squash (it can also be made ahead, and these two vegetables can easily be replaced with green beans).
  • Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  • Grate the Parmesan (vegan or dairy)
  • Cook the pasta al dente in salted boiling water.
  • Take a large baking dish, add 3-4 tablespoons of tomato sauce and spread it out
  • Drain the pasta and pour into the baking dish, add more tomato sauce until it reaches the desired richness, add the butternut squash, peas (drained and rinsed), fennel seeds and mozzarella grated (or your favorite vegan cheese). Mix, add a little oat milk to prevent it from drying too much, salt to taste and garnish with a generous amount of grated Parmigiano.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then broil for 2 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving.
  • This will make a great leftover, it can be frozen, and remember: it all depends on the flavor of your tomato sauce.

Vegan Buttermilk English Scones with Cranberries, Orange and White Chocolate

Winter 2021: at the crossroads of decadence and health


  • 500 grams all-purpose flour
  • 300 ml. almond milk
  • 75 grams vegan butter (frozen or very cold)
  • 1 ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • ¾ cup of frozen cranberries
  • 5 tablespoons of brown sugar + 1 tablespoon for sprinkling
  • 3 oranges (zest)
  • 2 teaspoons of baking soda
  • 2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 egg (or vegan option) for the browning
  • Cinnamon to taste, ginger and cloves to taste (optional)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste


  • The first step is to prepare the vegan buttermilk by adding the lemon juice to the almond milk and stirring. Leave to curdle for 10-15 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 425 F.
  • In a salad bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, the orange zest and the white chocolate chips
  • When 15 minutes have passed, add the vegan buttermilk vanilla paste
  • Take the vegan butter out of the freezer and cut it into small cubes; then add to the dry ingredients.
  • Take the frozen cranberries out of the fridge and sprinkle them with flour, then add them to the dry mixture along with the vegan butter.
  • Work the butter and mix dry with your fingertips until it forms small crumbs, then finally add the vegan buttermilk. Mix with your hands, but do not overwork the dough.
  • As soon as the buttermilk is absorbed, transfer the dough to a floured surface, fold it slightly and roll it out to a thickness of about 2 inches.
  • Start cutting 2 inch scones (this will make 15-16)
  • Arrange the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, brush with egg wash, sprinkle brown sugar on each and bake for 15-20 minutes at 425 F. These scones need a little more. time than regular English scones and won’t be as light when baked, because of the cranberries and white chocolate in it.
  • Let cool on a wire rack before serving.
  • You can freeze and thaw them overnight.

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