What’s In My Ocado Order: Amber Guinness

Want some fresh inspiration for your next weekly food shop? This month, we’ve teamed up with Ocado and asked food writer and cook Amber Guinness to share her regulars – from the Italian cupboard staples she’s never without to her favourite veg for quick weeknight dinners, these are the items she orders time and again…

Created in partnership with OCADO

FRIDGE STAPLES

Italian Ricotta: Ricotta is such a versatile product. It’s also a zero-waste ingredient (it’s a by-product from the cheese-making process) and it’s very mild, so carries the flavour of other ingredients really well. I like to toss it through pasta or bake it into savoury tarts like an asparagus and ricotta tart made with puff pastry. It’s also great for making malfatti – a kind of ricotta and spinach gnocchi. 

Parmareggio Parmiggiano Reggiano: Parmesan peps up so many dishes and brings a wonderful savoury note to meals. Of course, it’s also fabulous freshly grated over pasta.

Jus Rol Ready Rolled Puff Pastry Sheet: I always know that a delicious meal is 20 minutes away if I have ready-made puff pastry in the fridge. You can use it to make show-stopping tarts or a quick dessert. One of my favourite recipes from my book is a pear and brown sugar frangipane tart which is indulgent, warming and delicious. 

Salted British Butter: I love butter, but I don’t usually cook with it as I prefer olive oil. Instead, I spread it on hot toast which feels like such a treat. 

Italian Diced Pancetta: Another useful staple, pancetta adds a bit of oomph to simple dishes. One of my favourite pastas is penne with cavolo nero and pancetta – it adds a salty, crispy note. I also love it with lentils cooked with cloves and drizzled with balsamic glaze.

FRUIT & VEG

British Growing Large Basil Pot: Fragrant and delicious, basil is such a useful herb to have knocking around, as you can eat it on toast with tomatoes, toss it through pasta, whip up a quick pesto or add it to sandwiches. I love it in a pot as it looks pretty and adds some greenery to my kitchen. 

Baby Plum Tomatoes: I always buy baby or cherry tomatoes when I’m in England as they are much more flavourful. I chop them up and dress them with a pinch of salt and drizzle of olive oil to have on toast, topped with basil. For a quick meal, I chop them in half and cook them on a low flame for ten minutes with lots of basil and olive oil so they almost melt into the pan. In the meantime, I cook spaghetti in salted water, then toss the drained pasta in the sauce and top it with parmesan.

Organic Rocket: I love rocket and eat it most days. Its peppery, intense flavour is such a wonderful compliment to rich dishes as it cuts through and provides balance. I dress it simply, either with salt, olive oil and the juice of half a lemon, or with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for a sweeter, richer flavour. 

Asparagus: I really love the ‘In Season’ tab on Ocado where you can find seasonal British vegetables that are available at the time you’re shopping. There are lots of wonderful vegetables available in July, but asparagus is my main pick. It’s so versatile – I like it steamed, dressed with oil and lemon juice, and served alongside a perfectly boiled egg, or baked into one my favourite tarts – ricotta and asparagus. 

Lemons: I get through lemons so quickly as I use them in salad dressings, drink it in hot water with honey, and use the zest to pep up salads or pasta sauces. They are also brilliant in puddings – I’ll add lemon juice and zest to vanilla ice-cream, mixing it through before returning it to the freezer. It’s delicious dolloped onto homemade hot berry clafoutis. 

Courgettes: Again, courgettes are in season at the moment. I like to roast courgettes with garlic and chilli flakes, or grill them and dress them with lemon juice, zest and olive oil. I also love cooking them in a frying pan until they are soft, with lots of oil, basil and chilli, then toss them with a short pasta, such as penne or tortiglioni. 

"I really love the ‘In Season’ tab on Ocado where you can find SEASONAL British vegetables that are available at the time you’re shopping. This month, ASPARAGUS is my main pick."

CUPBOARD ESSENTIALS

Il Casolare Unfiltered Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is my number one desert island ingredient. It’s such an easy way to make even the simplest salad delicious. I think it’s a false economy to scrimp on olive oil – Il Casolare is a safe bet as it’s good quality and affordable. 

Biona Organic Balsamic Glaze: Sticky, sweet and delicious, I find balsamic glaze more economical and tastier than standard balsamic vinegar. It’s lovely drizzled over a peppery rocket salad or with lentils.  

De Cecco Pasta: I’m never without De Cecco pasta, usually spaghetti, penne, tortiglioni or conchiglie. I like to order an array of shapes so I can pair it with the sauce I feel like having. There is rhyme and reason to having certain pasta shapes with certain sauces – heavier, meaty sauces are better suited to short shapes (preferably with a hole so they can carry a lot of the meaty sauce, like bolognese) while lighter oil-based sauces are better with thin shapes like spaghetti. De Cecco is a great brand as it passes the pasta through copper cutters rather than Teflon, meaning the surface of the pasta is rough, not smooth, so the sauce can easily cling to the pasta. It also cooks and cools the pasta at a lower temperature for longer periods, meaning the cooking time is much more reliable than cheaper brands (which are easily overcooked). 

Chickpeas: I always have a tin or four of chickpeas at home. My go-to is a chickpea and rosemary soup, which is warming and fragrant. I also enjoy whipping up a homemade hummus or adding them to salads for a bit of extra bite and protein. 

Pollaine Sourdough Loaf: This is my favourite bread which is delicious lathered with good quality butter and Marmite. If I’m having guests over, I’ll use it to make crostini by drying it in the oven at a low temperature, then topping with ricotta, blanched broad beans, mint and lemon zest. 

Peeled Plum Tomatoes: Tinned tomatoes in the cupboard makes me feel safe! To make a simple pasta dish, I warm some olive oil in a pan with a clove of garlic and a pinch of chilli flakes, allowing them to sizzle before adding in the tomatoes, torn basil leaves and another glug of olive oil. I leave it to bubble away while the pasta cooks, then enjoy it with a glass of red wine. 

Flaked Almonds: These add texture to salads and are delicious sprinkled over desserts like tarts. I love them slightly roasted for extra flavour, too.

Green Lentils: When you don’t want to have potatoes as a side dish, lentils are a healthy alternative. I boil them with a red onion studded with cloves for about 20 minutes until they’re soft, then drain them and dress them with lots of balsamic glaze, olive oil, fresh parsley and fried pancetta. I make a big batch and serve this with everything from roasted sweet potatoes to hearty beef dishes.

Maldon Salt: This is another ingredient I would never be without. I love its crystalline texture which makes it easy to control your seasoning. It’s definitely the best salt out there.

Lavazza Qualita Rossa: I’m a coffee addict and this one has a delicious, intense flavour, especially in a proper Italian mocha. I brew the coffee, heat up some whole milk on the hob and stir them together.

SNACKS

Artichoke Hearts Antipasti: Whenever I have people over, I love to have an array of snacks, including these delicious artichoke hearts. I’ll slice them thinly and pop them on a wooden board with cold meats like salami.

Buon Piemontesi Sesame Grissini: These breadsticks are delicious and addictive. Perfect with antipasti or crudités. 

Torres Black Truffle Crisps: One of the most delicious crisps I’ve ever tried, these are so crunchy and indulgent. The truffle flavour isn’t too strong and they’re wonderfully salty – perfect with a cold drink or glass of wine. 

Unearthed Nocerella Olives: Nocerella olives are quite mild but have a fantastic, simple flavour. 

Radishes: A couple of sliced radishes are a crowd-pleaser when you have guests over. Garnish them with a little salt and olive oil. 

FREEZER ITEMS

Petit Pois: One of my favourite soups is pea and mint so I always have petit pois in my freezer. It’s so warming during the colder months – I whip it up with some red onion, olive oil and lots of fresh mint and blitz it up, then top it with grated parmesan and black pepper.

Baby British Broad Beans: You can blanch these for a few minutes and take off the outer layer – a labour-intensive task that’s oddly satisfying. You’re left with a bright green centre which is delicious in a salad or on toast with ricotta, lemon zest and mint leaves. 

Frozen Blueberries: I love making a traybake dessert in the oven using pancake batter and lots of blueberries. Pop it in as you sit down for dinner and serve it with lemon ice-cream. 

Carte D’Or Vanilla Ice-Cream: This is my favourite vanilla ice-cream. I often take it out to melt for five minutes and stir in the juice and zest of a few lemons before popping it back in the freezer. It’s a cheat for delicious lemon ice-cream that barely takes any time.

Mini Magnums: Who doesn’t love these? If you don’t have time to make dessert, everyone will be happy to have a mini Magnum after dinner, especially during the summer months.

DRINKS

Sparkling Mountain Water: I like to keep this in the fridge and drink it throughout the day or serve it to guests in a jug with fresh lemon or mint. 

Bottlegreen Elderflower Cordial: When I’m entertaining, I make big jugs of elderflower cordial and add sprigs of mint to the jug to make a simple mocktail. 

San Pellegrino Grapefruit: One of my favourite cocktails is a quick recipe I created using half prosecco, a quarter San Pellegrino Grapefruit and a quarter Campari. It’s fresh, delicious and perfect on a summer’s day.

Campari: This is an Italian staple and a must in anyone’s at-home bar. 

La Gioiosa Brut Prosecco: La Gioiosa is my favoruite prosecco to drink on its own or in a classic cocktail.

For more food inspiration and to shop the full range, visit Ocado.com. For more recipes and lifestyle tips, follow @AmberGuinness and follow AmberGuinness.com. A House Party In Tuscany by Amber Guinness is available at Waterstones and all good bookshops. 

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