TELLY chef and prolific cookbook writer, Gino D'Acampo, visits Italy's coast for inspiration for his new recipe collection.

Cheeky chappy Gino D'Acampo is bringing a taste of his Italian home (even borrowing recipes off his mamma Alba) in his new book to accompany his ITV series, Gino's Italian Coastal Escape.

The charismatic TV presenter, chef and restaurateur, 41, is hoping to show that simplicity is the key to great Italian food.

Gino, originally from Torre del Greco, Naples, has travelled along "the most famous coast in Europe", discovering the local specialities and authentic ingredients associated with Italy's west coast. It is arguably the gastronomic spine of the country, with the book taking influence from traditional kitchens in Rome, Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and the islands of Sicily and Elba.

It's not just about eating well either, Gino also believes he has "a responsibility to make sure people understand where their ingredients come from", which actually led to him uncovering a few culinary surprises. "You would never associate liquorice with Italian food," says Gino, who discovered a taste for Calabrian liquorice while researching the book.

"The more I travel, even for someone like myself who has been in food for so many years, I always learn something new and exciting."

One of his favourite dishes he stumbled upon, and then adapted, is ndunderi (pronounced 'dune-der-ee'), which he found while exploring the Amalfi Coast. "It's like gnocchi but instead of potato, they use ricotta. This is another thing which I had no idea they did there," he explains. "It's so delicate, light and beautiful. Delicious!"

It is characteristic of the food Gino's hoping to celebrate: simple, full of flavour, and all about the ingredients. The chef believes overcomplicating is what most people get wrong when attempting to cook Italian food. "The most important thing that my grandfather taught me, when I was a little boy, was that Italian food must be kept simple. Spend more time getting the right ingredients and less time in the kitchen - this is the secret."

From his grandfather's influence, to his parents' recipes in the new cookbook (including his mother's meatballs), it's clear family is very important to Gino and his food. He hopes to pass on his love of cooking to his three children, and his eldest, Luciano, is already "a huge foodie - he spends all his pocket money in restaurants and he's got a great understanding of food".

Gino and his family spend half the year at his Italian home in Sardinia, and the other six months in England. He hopes his next journey will take him to the Adriatic Coast, "the coast that goes from Venice to Puglia that is not as well-known as Amalfi, but is just as amazing".

While presenting his series, Gino revealed that he tries to emulate his food hero. "One of my favourite chefs is [the late] Keith Floyd, who I had the pleasure of meeting and we did a few cooking shows together. For me, Keith Floyd's shows are what I do now when I go to Italy.

"When I'm doing Gino's Italian Escape, I always have him in mind. I go round the region, finding an ingredient, meeting the local people, then I build my kitchen and I start to cook.

"My kitchen is wherever I am, it could be on the beach, it could be on top of the mountain, or in somebody's house.," says Gino. "That's the style of cooking I like."

Here are three of Gino's recipes to try at home.



(Serves 4)

400g '00' grade pasta flour, plus extra for dusting

1/2tsp fine salt

2tsp very finely ground black pepper

2 egg yolks

3 medium eggs, lightly beaten

230ml extra virgin olive oil

8 large (or 16 medium) fresh sage leaves

1/2tsp grated lemon zest, to serve

For the filling:

750g ricotta cheese

Grated zest of 2 unwaxed lemons

250g cooked king prawns, peeled and finely chopped

3tbsp chopped fresh chives

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten



1. First make the dough: place the flour, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the egg yolks, beaten eggs and two tablespoons of the oil. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, gradually mix the flour into the liquid. Once the texture is crumbly, turn out the mixture onto a well-floured surface.

2. Knead for about eight to 10 minutes until you have a soft, smooth dough. The technique is the same as for bread: hold the dough in one hand and fold, push down and stretch the dough away from you with the other hand. Rotate and repeat. Shape the dough into a ball, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, put the ricotta, lemon zest, prawns and chives in a large bowl and mix with a fork. Cover with cling film and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

3. Remove the cling film from the dough, dust it lightly with flour and cut into two even-sized pieces. Roll out each piece to about 2mm thick, either using a pasta machine or a rolling pin (dust the rolling pin and work surface with flour first). Dust frequently with flour or the dough can become sticky.

4. Lay one piece of dough on a well-dusted work surface. Place a tablespoonful of the filling on the dough and repeat at 5cm intervals over half the sheet only. Lightly brush the spaces around the filling with the two beaten eggs. Fold over the dough to cover the filling. Press gently around each spoonful of filling to expel the air. Using a 5.5cm round ravioli stamp cutter, cut out the ravioli. Cover with a tea towel and repeat with the other piece of dough.

5. Cook the ravioli in a large pan of boiling, salted water for three minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the sage. As soon as it starts to sizzle, transfer the ravioli using a slotted spoon to the pan with the sage. Gently toss to coat. To serve, sprinkle over a little lemon zest.



(Serves 4)

Olive oil for greasing

400g minced pork

400g minced beef

150g fresh white breadcrumbs

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

5tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

100g freshly grated Grana Padano cheese

2 medium eggs, lightly beaten

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the sauce:

2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes

690ml jar of passata (sieved tomatoes)

4tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1/2tsp dried chilli flakes

10 fresh basil leaves, plus extra to garnish

Salt to season


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Grease a large baking sheet with oil and set aside. Place the pork, beef, breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, Grana Padano and eggs in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Mix with your hands until everything is thoroughly combined.

2. Using dampened hands, take small amounts of the meat mixture and roll into 12 equal-sized balls. Place the balls on the baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, make the sauce. Put the tomatoes, passata and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Stir in the chilli flakes, basil and some salt. Bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, partially cover the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Carefully place the meatballs in the tomato sauce and partially cover the pan again. Simmer for 30 minutes, turning the meatballs occasionally. If the sauce gets too thick, add a little hot water. To serve, scatter over a few basil leaves.



(Serves 6)

200g ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced

140ml limoncello (lemon-flavoured liqueur)

80g caster sugar

6 egg yolks

Grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus extra for decoration

120ml double cream


1. Put the strawberries in a medium bowl with four tablespoons of the limoncello and two tablespoons of the sugar. Stir and set aside at room temperature for an hour, stirring every 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, place the egg yolks in a heatproof bowl (preferably stainless steel) with the lemon zest and remaining sugar. Whisk using a balloon whisk until pale and creamy.

3. Set the bowl over a pan of very gently simmering water. The base of the bowl should not touch the water. Add the remaining limoncello and whisk constantly until the mixture foams and thickens. This should take about five minutes; remember, the mixture will thicken further as it cools.

4. Fill a slightly larger bowl with iced water and set the bowl with the zabaione mixture inside it. Leave to cool completely, stirring occasionally (it should take about 25 minutes).

5. Put the cream in a medium bowl and whip until thick enough to form peaks. Gently fold a quarter of the cream into the cooled zabaione, then the remainder.

6. To serve, divide the strawberries and their juices among six dessert glasses and top with a large dollop of zabaione. Sprinkle over some grated lemon zest. Serve immediately.

n Gino's Italy Coastal Escape: A taste Of Italy From The Aeolian Islands To Elba, by Gino D'Acampo, is published by Hodder & Stoughton, priced £20. Available now.