We all need more vegetables in our diet and with Gennaro’s Verdure, this couldn’t be easier.  Split into different colour groups of green, red, purple and yellow, Gennaro will show you how easy it is to transform humble vegetables into the star of the show!   Packed with useful information about each vegetable, Verdure shows you what to look for when buying, how to store it and how best to cook it as well as a little history about how it came about in the Italian kitchen.  Growing up in southern Italy, Gennaro’s diet included a variety of seasonal vegetables which, combined with a few other basic ingredients, provided simple, nutritious meals for all.

“When I was growing up in Italy, meat was usually only served on Sunday and we had fresh fish on Friday, so vegetables played a very big role in our diet.

It’s amazing what you can create with such humble ingredients. A broccoli head can easily be turned into a baked pasta dish for 4 or blended into a soup; aubergines can be stuffed or made into the classic Parmigiana.

You really don’t need much to create tasty vegetable dishes and, as long as you have a few basic ingredients in your store cupboard and fridge, effortless and nutritious meals can be rustled up in no time.”


Although Verdure is all about vegetables, it is not solely a vegetarian book; some recipes include a little meat — (e.g pancetta), parmesan or maybe anchovies. However, most of these can be substituted for suggested alternatives, so every recipe can be 100% vegetarian if preferred.

Cooking with all this fresh produce helps to maintain a healthy, nutrient-rich diet and with Gennaro’s Verdure this couldn’t be simpler with lots of inspiration for how to turn vegetables into the superhero of your meals.

Pasticcio di Polenta e Funghi

Polenta lasagne with mushrooms

The Italian title of this dish – pasticcio – means a ‘mess’ because, when serving, it really can look messy on the plate!

However, it is delicious and the perfect winter warmer, so don’t let this deter you! The layering is similar to a lasagne but the pasta sheets are swapped for polenta, which makes it ideal for anyone on a gluten-free diet.

It can easily be made in advance and reheated, and this often makes it easier to serve (not so messy!).


serves 4-6

800ml (28fl oz) water
200g (7oz) quick-cook polenta
25g (1oz) butter, plus extra for greasing 1 x 125g (4½ oz) ball of mozzarella
cheese, drained and roughly chopped 60g (21/4oz) grated Parmesan
pinch of sea salt
For the mushroom ragù
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ onion, finely chopped
30g (1oz) pancetta, finely chopped leaves of 1 thyme sprig
500g (1lb 2oz) chestnut mushrooms,
700ml (1¼ pints) tomato passata
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • For this recipe, you will need a deep, rectangular ovenproof dish (approx. 18cm x 24cm/7in. x 91/2in.), as well as three shallow trays or dishes that are the same size (but they don’t have to be as deep) – these will be moulds for the thin polenta layers.
  • Lightly grease your three rectangular-shaped trays or dishes and set aside for use later on.
  • First make the mushroom ragù. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based pan and sweat the onion, pancetta, and thyme over a medium heat for a couple of minutes, until the pancetta begins to colour.
  • Stir in the mushrooms, season and then stir-fry over a medium-high heat for 2–3 minutes.
  • Add the tomato passata with a little water (rinsed out of the passata jar), then cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for 1 hour.
  • Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/gas mark 6 and prepare the polenta. Place the water in a pot, add the salt and bring to the boil, then gradually whisk in the polenta and cook for a couple of minutes until thickened – check the instructions on the packet. Remove from the heat before mixing in the butter.
  • Divide the polenta mixture between the three prepared dishes, then level out and smooth the top with an oiled spatula. Leave to cool for about 30 minutes or so.
  • Lightly grease the ovenproof dish with oil and line with one of the polenta layers. Top with a third of the mushroom ragù, followed by some mozzarella and Parmesan.
  • Continue making layers like these until you have used up all the ingredients, finishing with a layer of cheese on top.
  • Bake in the oven for 30 minutes, until the top is nicely golden and bubbling, then remove from the oven and leave to rest for 10 minutes. Garnish with some extra grated Parmesan and fresh chopped herbs before serving.


  • I use chestnut mushrooms, but you can use whichever variety you like, or a mixture —Gennaro