Meet La Nipotina
Danielle Barber could possibly be Sydney’s hottest new caterer. For Danielle, cooking is the art of turning simple, mostly plant based ingredients into delicious dishes. Through an ingrained loyalty to her Italian history La Nipotina was born. This particular recipe screamed summer to us here at Brie Leon, so we thought we’d share with our readers!
When did you start your business and services that you offer?
A COVID-19 baby (2020) - Ever since I can remember I have been cooking plates that bring people together, and when lockdown took away our ability to come together in one form, I saw an opportunity to bring people together in the way I knew best.
La Nipotina began as a hobby, throwing dinner parties and cooking for friends. I then started selling family size lasagne along with other home-cooked meals and sweets to friends and family. It grew via Instagram into a runaway small catering and food styling business. The cakes came a little later after I was challenged to make a girlfriends birthday cake that “looked pretty but also tasted good”. My baking skills and cakes improved with every order and no two are exactly alike. It has been an absolute dream to now be working with couples on their wedding cake in a less traditional form.
As a home-cook and creative I strive to create unforgettable memories both in the kitchen and around the table through wholesome flavours, attention to detail and with the utmost care.
What is your favourite thing to make?
Mumma’s Peperonata or Nonna’s Ragu. Why? The smells wafting through my cosy apartment takes me straight back to cooking with Nonna as a child. There is something truly powerful in the interplay between smells of food and memories. They both involve lots of patience and time but so worth it!
What is your favourite thing about this specific recipe?
Lemon juice/zest and the abundance of fresh herbs which gives this dish its fresh, light, bright element. Toasted pistachio’s is certainly a hidden gem! Adds flavour and a crunch like no other!
The option to strip this recipe right back and it still be sooo delicious! The simple sauce of butter, garlic, lemon and starchy pasta water is divine as is, or can be paired with whatever veg you can get your hands on. Oh, but don’t ditch the cheese (never ever!).
Zesty Zucchini Flower and Ricotta Pasta
With Toasted Pistachios and Fresh Herbs
400g dried or fresh pasta
8 zucchini flowers, halved lengthways
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, slice heads as a whole and thinly slice remaining stems into small pieces
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
Handful of pistachios, crushed
1 cup reserved pasta water
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
¼ cup fresh ricotta
1 block (230g) pecorino, grated
Handful of fresh herbs (basil, mint, parsley), torn, plus more to serve
Salt and pepper
- Bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook per packet instructions, although cook until just under al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water.
- Whilst your pasta is cooking, use your fingertips to snap off and discard the stamens in the centre of the zucchini flowers. Toss zucchini flowers and asparagus in 1 tbsp. olive oil and generously season with salt and pepper.
- Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat. Add prepared veg (don’t overcrowd) and cook unstirred until one side is seared to a golden brown of your liking (about 3 minutes), then turn for a further 3 minutes until crispy. Add the garlic for the last couple of minutes. Remove and set aside.
- Heat the remaining oil in a small pan. Add pistachios and toast until golden.
- Over low heat add pasta and ½ cup of reserved pasta water to the large pan. Add lemon juice, half the lemon zest, ricotta, ½ cup of pecorino, and fresh herbs. Toss until silky. If needed, add an additional ¼ cup of pasta water to loosen. Add greens and gently toss.
- Served topped with toasted pistachios, additional herbs, remaining lemon zest and grated pecorino (be generous!).