7 Days Of Home-Cooked Meal Ideas from Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Julia Busuttil Nishimura gets us through a lot of times. Her food is honest, comforting and very simple to make, and above all, her whole approach to food invites us to slow down, and remember what’s important. That’s why we turned to her for advice when things started changing so dramatically last week.

And she delivered! Each of these seven recipes is designed to be economical, making use of basic pantry items in lots of different ways, with a fair few options for leftovers, too! There’s also a downloadable shopping list at the bottom, combining all the ingredients.

And stay tuned – Julia will be back next week for a second drop of hearty, nourishing recipe ideas to keep your kitchen humming!

Julia Busuttil Nishimura

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Mushroom ragú with creamy polenta. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Ribollita. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Lemon mascarpone bucatini.

Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Porcini tomato pasta. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Potato and leek torte. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Potato and leek torte filling. Photo – Julia Busuttil Nishimura.

Fresh tomatoes and basil. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Roasted tomato summer soup with basil oil and mozzarella. Photo – Eve Wilson for The Design Files.

Julia Busuttil Nishimura
24th of March 2020

Whenever I’m stressed or overwhelmed, cooking is my go-to. It gives me something else to focus on, and also has the added bonus of providing nourishment to me and my family. The past few weeks have definitely been a lot to take in, and the COVID-19 situation doesn’t appear to be getting a whole lot better in a hurry. It’s a lot, I know.

I’ve been following friends’ experiences in Italy, and if I’ve learnt anything, it’s super important we follow the rules. That means social distancing for now, but maybe a mandate to stay home in the future, who knows? And secondly, there is absolutely NO need to panic buy and hoard loads of food. Australia produces almost enough to feed three times our population, and shops providing essentials like pasta, and yes, toilet paper, will stay open – with many now offering home delivery! Even though we may mostly be in self-isolation, we can still get the food we are after.

What has come out of this situation is a feeling of unity; we are so interconnected and we’re in it together. I don’t know about you, but the happy stories of good deeds are pulling me through! Not to mention the amazing way that hospitality businesses have pivoted in this trying time. Think Lune croissants delivered to your door, and your favourite restaurant now offering home delivery. Silver lining!

And while, right now, things seem uncertain and maybe even a little scary, cooking can be a wonderful distraction and a great way to just slow down a little. I’ve collated some recipes that I find really comforting and simple to prepare, that should see you through a whole week. If you have time on your hands, there are some options to make your own pasta from scratch but, of course, just use dried pasta if you prefer. And while I know some of the ingredients are proving hard to find (apparently even flour is a rare sight this week) many of the ingredients needed are pantry staples, so hopefully you may be mostly sorted.

Feel free to substitute anything where necessary too, it’s definitely time to get creative in the kitchen. Stay safe!

One Pot Roast Chicken

The advantage of cooking in one pot isn’t just in cleaning up after, it means everything soaks up the flavours of everything else. Punchy, acidic tomatoes and sweet, hearty potatoes are packed with chicken juices and hints of olive.

Link to recipe here.

Easy Bucatini With Lemon Mascarpone

Using winter citruses like lemon make this pasta dish feel slightly summery, and offers a good alternative to a passata base.

Link to recipe here.

Mushroom Ragú with Creamy Polenta

We’re on the brink of mushroom season, which means they can be sprinkled on everything! A North Italian-style creamy polenta base is warm and comforting heading into cooler days.

Link to recipe here.


Most people think of minestrone when they think of hearty Italian soups, but ribollita is thicker and a good way to use up all your leftovers at the end of the week. Pancetta, chilli and cannellini beans pack this comfort food with crowd-pleasing flavours.

Link to recipe here.

Porcini Tomato Pasta

This pasta is made mostly with pantry ingredients and combines rich tomato flavours with earthy, bold porcini. It gives you that fizzy feeling of happiness and safety every bite.

Link to recipe here.

Potato and Leek Torte

This one-crust wonder cases potato, leek and melted mozzarella in a crisp pastry shell you can make at home or buy in-store.

Link to recipe here.

Roasted Tomato Summer Soup With Mozzarella

This rich and fragrant summer soup has been filling our Instagram feeds since we published it a few months ago, and we can see why!

Link to recipe here.


Like the look of all this? Download Julia’s shopping list for everything you need for all seven meals here, or head to the link under each heading for individual ingredients lists.

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