Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Little Italian Influence

During our recent holiday on Orkney we visited the Italian Chapel. This is a beautiful building decorated and furnished by the Italian POW's that were brought to Orkney in 1942 to help build the sea defences that stopped the German Uboats entering Scapa flow.

The Italians requested a proper place of worship and persuaded the camp commandant to allow them to build a chapel on Lamb Holm. 
They were given two Nissen huts joined end to end to convert on the condition all work was carried out outside working hours on the barriers. 
One end of the hut was lined with plasterboard to form a sanctuary and an altar, altar-rail and holy water stoop were made from concrete. 
With the success of the decoration in the sanctuary it was felt the whole chapel should be lined and the entire interior of the chapel was painted to depict brick walls, carved stone, vaulted ceilings and buttresses. Frescos of angelic figures, stained glass windows and an altarpiece depicting the Madonna and Child surrounded by cherubic figures.
All the materials for the decoration were scavenged from wherever possible. Wood was sourced from a wrecked ship for the tabernacle. A rod-screen and gates enclosing the sanctuary were fashioned from scrap metal. They also made two candelabra which stand on the alter alongside four brass candelabra.
The building was beautiful, silent & reflective and we spent a good hour looking round and reading about the men who we responsible for it.

As usual my thoughts are never far from food and I found all my reading of the Italian influences on Orkney, left by these POW's, made me think of the Italian diet and I just had to cook pasta with tomatoes, basil & olives for our lunch after that visit.

Here's my recipe from that day
Serves 2
1 good handful of cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons of pitted black olives
1 courgette
1 clove garlic - crushed
4oz pasta (any type - penne, farfalle, fudilli you choose!)
olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper
fresh basil
sprigs fresh thyme
Parmesan & rocket leaves to serve

Pre heat oven 180C/gas 5

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and place on an oiled baking tray. Add the olives and herbs. Dress with olive oil, salt & pepper and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes start to colour.

Whilst the tomatoes are in the oven slice the courgette and some chorizo, pop in a frying pan and with some olive oil & garlic cook over a gentle heat until the courgette has softened.

Also nows the time to cook your pasta ...

Remove your tomatoes when they look like this and pour over a little balsamic vinegar...

Drain, butter & pepper your pasta.

Grab a serving bowl and assemble the meal. First of all mix the courgette & chorizo with the pasta then gently fold in the tomatoes.

Arrange in your serving dish, sprinkle over some shards of Parmesan and some rocket leaves and serve.

It doesn't matter if it served cold, hot or at room temperature this pasta dish works really well. Especially with a glass of wine!

 One last look at the chapel

 Pasta Salad