Students who want to ditch the ready meals and takeaways in favour of real Italian food can now learn the art of home cooking with a Bristol-based Italian "Mamma". From her home in Westbury-on-Trym, Cristina Orlando runs cookery courses for students, teaching them the basics of nutritious cooking.
The courses have been set up in conjunction with Italian sauce brand Sacla', which recently carried out research into students' eating habits. The study found that they are eating an unhealthy and expensive diet of takeaways and snacks because they don't know how to cook quick, cheap but tasty meals.
So Sacla' has teamed up with Italian mothers in five university cities. Over the course of the coming weeks, these experienced home cooks will open up their kitchens to students and host a series of home-based cookery classes based on the Italian principle of simple, healthy ingredients cooked well.
The Sacla' Student Cookery School is an initiative aimed at helping students get the most out of cheap, seasonal, fresh ingredients and store cupboard staples.
Cristina Orlando was born and brought up in Florence and splits her time between there and Bristol. She says she is thrilled to be a Sacla' Mamma.
Along with Italian mammas in London, Manchester, Swansea, and Glasgow, Cristina will guide groups of students in the creation of healthy, delicious and cheap recipes.
With a student loan friendly budget of just £20, the undergraduates will be shown how to make everything from a one-pot dinner for friends, a brain-boosting revision lunch and a post-pub snack.
You can follow the progress of the students at www.facebook.com/SaclaItalianFoodLovers and on Twitter @SaclaUK. The next Sacla' Student Cookery Schools with Cristina will be held in Bristol on Monday, November 18 and November 25 at 4pm. Students can apply at http://www.sacla.co.uk/ student-cookery-school.
500g tortellini al formaggio
500g frozen peas
300g thinly sliced ham
250ml double cream
100g Parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sugar
Sacla classic basil pesto
In a pan, pour the olive oil and garlic and gently let it turn golden on a very gentle heat. Add the frozen peas, add salt and pepper according to taste, and then the sugar. Cover it and stir the peas every now and then until softened.
In another pan, prepare the besciamelle (béchamel) sauce. Put 50g of butter in a pan and let it melt on low heat.
Take the pan out of the heat and put the flour, stir until smooth then add the milk gradually by stirring continuously. Put the pan back to the hob and stir until the sauce becomes thicker.
Boil enough water in a large pan with 2 tsp of salt. As soon as it boils add the tortellini and let them boil for few minutes. Drain the tortellini and put them in a bowl. Mix them with the besciamelle sauce, the cream, the Parmesan cheese, one third of the peas, 100g of ham and pepper.
Get a round mould with a hole in the middle that can go in the oven, grease it with butter and cover it all around by laying the slices of ham.
Fill with the dressed Tortellini and place it in the oven at 200C (gas mark 5) for 45 minutes. Remove it from the oven and turn it upside down on a large dish.
Warm up the remaining peas with a tablespoon of basil pesto and pour them all around the ring and inside the hole.