Hello foodies! My apologies for being MIA on the blogging front, but I just got back from a trip to Italy. I’m rejuvenated and humming with inspiration (not to mention still on Italy time and waking up at 5am).
We spent days wandering the piazzas and noshing on locavore delights. When we had a particularly eye-opening culinary experience, I’d write bullet point notes of interesting flavor combinations or exciting preparations. For four days, we stayed at La Tavola Marche in Piobbico (a small hillside town in the region of Le Marche). Jason, the in-house chef and B&B entrepreneur, taught us a one-on-one cooking class Saturday night. Together we created a five-course menu to feed ten people (fellow B&B/dinner guests for the evening). What I loved most about Jason’s class is that it exemplified the Italian cooking experience.
1) Highlight seasonal ingredients
2) Use local products
3) Don’t overwork the goods
One of the dishes made was an appetizer of grilled eggplant, fresh mozzarella and parsley with a vinegar marinated pepper garnish. Jason gave us the blueprint for the recipe (and ok, the actual written one) but the goal of the class was to add cooking techniques to our arsenal. The marinated pepper salata is so easy and applicable to a multitude of ingredients.
Jason used a local organic green pepper he grew on the farm, but my urban environment brought me to the organic section of the grocery store. We are in-between seasons in Seattle. Random late summer fruits are still on the shelves as local apples begin to take over display bins. Carrots are becoming abundant so I thought I’d sub them for peppers and take the salad on a dance through countries: Italy, France, Spain. Read the recipe and follow it if you like, but please use it more as a blueprint than a message in stone.
Foodie Note: Cut the vegetable into the same size and on the small side. Marinating the carrots in acid (vinegar) cooks and thus, softens the ingredients. Instead of carrots, substitute cabbage, beets or peppers. If you don’t have a mandolin to quickly julienne the carrots, you can cut by hand, slice with a vegetable peeler or shred in a food processor. The salad doesn’t have to be julienned, just sliced very thin.
Serves 3 as a side dish
3 medium organic carrots, peeled and cut into 1″ chunks (if using a mandolin)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 radishes, julienned (do this by hand)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1) Shred carrots via mandolin, vegetable peeler or food processor.
2) In a large bowl, combine the carrots, red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat in vinegar and marinate for 30 minutes.
3) Slice radishes, wash and roughly chop cilantro, toast pine nuts.
4) To serve, add olive oil, most of the radishes and cilantro. Toss, taste, add salt/pepper as needed. Plate salad, sprinkle with reserved radish, cilantro leaves and pine nuts. Garnish with a light drizzle of olive oil and a few cracks of pepper. Serve at room temperature.