The Puglia Diaries

The thrills and spills of a British Council Language Assistant in Molfetta, Italy

How to ‘Cooke’: Tagliata di Manzo


My last name is ironic. Ask anyone. It’s not that my food tastes terrible or is always burned; I just do not enjoy the whole cooking business. I get stressed when my practical skills are pushed to the limit or when I have to watch more than one pan at a time. Between my mum, my sister and my best friend, I have been teased a lot for not even being able to butter toast. I CAN butter toast, but soft bread is a bit more problematic. Having said that, I am able to feed myself: I make a good salad and can cook pasta perfectly al dente. As to the dessert part of the meal (which to be honest is the best bit), I am not bad at baking: my cakes, biscuits and even botched macaroons usually taste quite nice.

An old photo from Leeds: proof of my cake making skills

An old photo from Leeds: proof of my cake making skills

What I tend to do is find a recipe that even a child would be able to follow if health and safety allowed it. I then make this recipe on a weekly basis until I’m sick to death of it. My evening meal of choice here in Puglia, when I have a little more time on my hands, is Nigella Lawson’s ‘Tagliata’: sliced steak with cherry tomatoes soaked in a red wine vinegar, olive oil, chilli and oregano marinade. It is the BOMB and takes about five minutes to make: excellent, seeing as I usually start cooking when I urgently want food. Read on for the recipe:

1)    Get out your ingredients. I find this method reduces stress and the risk of spilling something fumbling in a cupboard while something is starting to burn.

For a decent one person portion, you need:

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            – 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

            –  ½ chilli flakes

            – 1 teaspoon oregano

            – ½ teaspoon of table salt

            – 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar

       – a little piece of meat, I just get a thin  steak from the  supermarket

         – a handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered


2)    Hokay. Next, heat up a grill pan/non stick frying pan with a bit of olive oil.

3)    In a small dish that your steak can sit in, mix together the extra virgin olive oil, chilli flakes, oregano, salt and red wine vinegar. As you can see, I have used an old ice cream tub because it’s the perfect size and it is easier to wash up.

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Mmmm appetisinggg

4)    Cook your steak for 2 minutes each side, it should be nice and rare. But if you like it well done, it’s your call. Put your steak in the spicy marinade and let it relax there for 2 minutes each side, then take it out and slice it.

6)    Now put the cherry tomatoes in the marinade. If you have the time, you can put them face down one at once, but I find that slooshing them around freestyle works just as well. Pour the tomatoes and the marinade over the meat and ecco una buona cena.

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I usually have mine with some courgettes because I’ve no patience for cooking potatoes. Chips soak up the marinade deliciously though and salad would also be a good side. I usually put quite a lot of tomatoes on to keep up my fruit and vegetable count.

This is the easiest recipe ever: even I can’t get it wrong, it’s sufficiently Italian and plus it shows my support for Team Nigella. The olive oil here is quite spicy, so it goes with the chilli flakes to give the meat some heat. Plus the tomatoes actually taste of something in Puglia: rejoice!


Author: Elly Cooke

Recent graduate of English Literature and Italian from the University of Leeds. Book lover and part-time Italian speaker.

2 thoughts on “How to ‘Cooke’: Tagliata di Manzo

  1. I will definitely try this! Any recipe ideas that don’t revolve around having an oven are greatly appreciated.
    p.s. I like what you did with your name pun ;)

    • OK, if I come up with any other ideas for ovenless cooking, I’ll let you know! I do have a name that lends itself to puns (win)

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