Circolo Popolare: 5 contemporary Italian recipes from 2019’s most Instagrammed restaurant

Posted by for Food

After Circolo Popolare’s delicious Italian food took London by storm this summer, the team behind the restaurant reveal the recipes for the dishes you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed.

When it comes to comfort food, there’s nothing quite like Italian cuisine. From a warming bowl of creamy pasta to a generous serving of tiramisu, it’s hard not to fall in love with Italy’s rich and indulgent flavours.

So when contemporary Italian restaurant Circolo Popolare opened its doors in London in June, it was, unsurprisingly, a massive success. Launched by the same people behind London’s Gloria, Circolo Popolare’s hearty Italian meals and no-nonsense servings have made it the place to be for Italian food-lovers across the city. Now, famous both for its incredible food and highly-Instagrammable interiors (you’ll have seen the towering walls of alcohol and greenery-covered ceilings taking over your feed), Big Mamma – the team behind Circolo Popolare and Gloria – is launching its hotly-anticipated cookbook.

Jam-packed with 130 mouth-watering recipes from the Big Mamma team, Big Mamma Cucina Popolare: Contemporary Italian Recipes features a selection of easy-to-prepare, delicious dishes ranging from their classic Tigramisu to the Sexy Bruschetta.

Read on for five easy-to-make recipes courtesy of the Big Mamma team – you (and your dinner party guests) can thank us later.

Sexy Bruschetta (bruschetta with mozzarella, pesto, basil and tomato confit)

Per 4 amici

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Big Mamma's Sexy Bruschetta recipe.
Big Mamma's Sexy Bruschetta recipe.

You’ll need

250 g/9 oz mozzarella di bufala or other mozzarella cheese

Four slices of farmhouse (country-style) bread

20 Tomato Confit, halved (see below for the recipe)

Four tablespoons of Green Pesto (see below for the recipe)

Five teaspoons of pine nuts

Olive oil

One bunch of watercress, to garnish

The method

Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3. Cut the mozzarella into slices 1 cm/1/2 inch thick.

Toast the bread under the grill for five minutes. Lay the mozzarella slices on the slices of toast and place under the grill for a further three minutes.

To serve, top with the tomato confit, then add some pesto and scatter over the pine nuts. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, garnish with a few watercress leaves and enjoy.

Cool to know

“This recipe is ideal for a summer lunch on the terrace, as an appetizer or with a salad, accompanied by a good IPA beer. Simple and easy.”

Tomato Confit (a tip from Virginia Baldeschi)

Per 4 amici

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Circolo Popolare: the Big Mama Cucina Popolare Cookbook features loads of tasty Italian recipes.
Big Mamma's Tomato Confit recipe.

You’ll need

300 g/10 and 1/2 oz (two cups) datterini or cherry tomatoes

Olive oil

Fine salt

One teaspoon icing (confectioners’) sugar

Four thyme sprigs

The method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Wash and halve the tomatoes vertically. Place each half cut-side down in an ovenproof dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and the sugar and add the thyme. Roast in the preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Cool to know

“Tomato confit is fantastic. It can be used cold in a salad or as a topping for bruschetta. It can be heated and used to make quick and tasty tomato sauces to serve with fried or scrambled eggs, meats and much more. Don’t hesitate to make double or triple the amount. You’ll always find a way to use these magical tomatoes.”

Green Pesto (a tip from Andrea Zambrano)

Per 4 amici

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 10 minutes

Big Mamma's Green Pesto recipe.
Big Mamma's Green Pesto recipe.

You’ll need

200 g/7 oz (6 and 2/3 cups) basil leaves, preferably organic

50 g/2 oz (generous cup) pine nuts

100 g/3 and 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) olive oil

Two garlic cloves, green germ removed

100 g/3 and 1/2 oz (scant 1 and 1/4 cups) grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper

The method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Fill a bowl with iced water. Bring one litre/34 fl oz (four and 1/4 cups) of water to the boil in a pan. Blanch the basil leaves for three minutes. Drain and plunge into the bowl of iced water to keep the leaves green.

Line a baking sheet with baking (parchment) paper. Spread out the pine nuts over the baking sheet and roast them in the preheated oven for five minutes.

Using an immersion (stick) blender in a bowl or a blender, blend the dried basil leaves with the roasted pine nuts, olive oil and garlic cloves. Using a spatula, stir the grated Parmesan into the pesto. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Cool to know

“To store, fill an ice cube tray with the pesto and freeze it in portions. This way it’s far easier to take out a little pesto at a time for seasoning anything you fancy.”

Pasta Bomba Rossa (spaghetti with spicy tomato and basil sauce)

Per 4 amici

Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

Big Mamma's Bomba Rossa recipe.
Big Mamma's Bomba Rossa recipe.

You’ll need

500 ml/17 fl oz (generous 2 cups) tomato sauce

Two tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

10 basil leaves

Two pinches of Espelette pepper or paprika

600 g/1 lb 5 oz spaghetti or linguine

10 Tomato Confit, halved

Salt and pepper

The method

In a frying pan (skillet) over a low heat, warm the tomato sauce, olive oil and half of the basil leaves for five minutes. Season with salt, pepper and one pinch of Espelette pepper.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the package directions. Remove with pasta tongs and transfer to the frying pan. Mantecare (mix) and add one ladle of the pasta cooking water and continue cooking for five minutes.

Transfer the pasta and sauce to a serving dish. Scatter over the tomato confit and remaining basil leaves, then sprinkle with another pinch of Espelette pepper. Drizzle with a little olive oil and serve immediately.

Cool to know

“You can vary this recipe in your own way: try adding chilli pepper for people who like a bit of heat. Trust us, you must try this dish!”

Tigramisu (tiramisu)

Per 6 amici

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Chilling time: Two hours (better overnight)

Big Mamma's Tigramisu recipe.
Big Mamma's Tigramisu recipe.

You’ll need

250 ml/8 fl oz (one cup) whipping cream

Four egg yolks

70 g/21/2 oz (1/2 cup) caster (superfine) sugar

400 g/14 oz (1 3/4 cups) mascarpone cheese

400 ml/14 fl oz (1 2/3 cups) hot espresso coffee

Two tablespoons of marsala

30 sponge (lady) fingers

Cocoa powder (unsweetened), for dusting

The method

Using a whisk, whip the cream in a mixing bowl. In a second mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar, then add the mascarpone and whisk again until smooth. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone mixture with a spatula. Set aside.

Mix the coffee with the marsala in a bowl. Dip the sponge (lady) fingers into the coffee mixture, one side at a time, and arrange in a large serving dish. (20 x 25 cm/8 x 10 inches and about 7 cm/23/4 inches deep). Cover with a 2-cm/3/4-inch-thick layer of the cream. Repeat the process until all the ingredients are used up, finishing with a layer of the cream.

Cover the dish with clingfilm (plastic wrap) and chill in the refrigerator overnight.

Before serving, heavily dust the top of the tiramisu with a thick layer of cocoa powder.

Cool to know

“At Big Mamma, we love serving the Tigramisu by carrying the dish on an arm and filling the plates of each customer using a big spoon. Guaranteed to impress! Ah… you’ll have noticed that a ‘g’ found its way into the name of our version. There’s no mistake; it’s a nod to Tigrane, one of our two big papas!”

Want must-binge culture tips and chic interiors hacks? Sign up for the Stylist Loves Staying In email

Share this article

Recommended by Lauren Geall