The Glorious Vegetables of Italy

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (Photo: Sang An)

The Glorious Vegetables of Italy (Photo: Sang An)

Plan on coming to Dorothea’s House on Sunday November 3 at 5:00 pm for a program titled From Artichokes to Zucchini – Cooking with Italy’s Glorious Vegetables. (Programs at Dorothea’s House are followed by informal get-togethers where one can chat with old and new friends, and taste dishes and offerings brought by participants.)

Domenica Marchetti, who grew up in our area, will talk about how she transitioned from a career in newspaper reporting to writing cookbooks with a focus on Italian home cooking. She will also talk about her latest book, The Glorious Vegetables of Italy, which I wrote about for my October 18 In The Kitchen column in the Princeton Packet.  (See the full text of that article below.)

And for an interview with the author conducted by local blogger Linda Prospero, be sure to visit Ciao Chow Linda. Her blog is full of gorgeous photos, lovely stories of her travels, and delicious recipes!

“The Glorious Vegetables of Italy”

By Faith Bahadurian, for Princeton Packet October 18, 2013

Italians are known for their way with vegetables, and when I visited Italy I was brought face-to-face with a colorful vegetable stand on almost every street corner. And what interesting vegetables they were!

Purple tinged artichokes on long stalks, hot pink onions, porcini mushrooms, and unusual radicchios were just a few of the attractions competing with Florence’s architecture and museums. Lacking a kitchen to cook in, I could only look forward to the cooking class I’d booked, where I got to indulge my culinary dreams.

I’m reminded of that bounty by Domenica Marchetti’s newly released, “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy.” I’ve written about this locally born author before (she blogs at http://www.domenicacooks.com), and she will be in our area for a November 3 appearance at Dorothea’s House. 

The book, which honors both tradition and innovation, is an excellent introduction to cooking with Italian vegetables in your own kitchen. It starts with a Gallery of Vegetables, amusingly characterized as a “speed dating” session for vegetables, with descriptions of and tips for preparing the variety featured in the book. She also includes information on equipment and other ingredients, even the Italian cheeses that are used in some of the recipes.

Besides the recipes below, I’m eying many others in this beautifully photographed book, which includes chapters on appetizers; garden soups and salads; pastas and other starches; pizza, calzone, and panini; main courses (just a few with meat), and side dishes (Thanksgiving alert!) like Smashed Green Beans and Potatoes with Pancetta, Honey Balsamic Roasted Carrots, Sweet and Sour Peppers with Oil-Cured Olives, and Cardoon Sformati, a savory baked custard.

Besides all the savory dishes, there are appealing desserts such as Winter Squash Panna Cotta and a citrusy Carrot Polenta Cake. A chapter of preserves and condiments rounds out the generous selection, and will have you cooking from this book throughout the year.

Domenica Marchetti visits Dorothea’s House (www.dorotheashouse.org) on Sunday November 3 at 5:00 pm, for a talk and book signing. Programs at Dorothea’s House are followed by informal get-togethers where one can chat with old and new friends, and taste dishes and offerings brought by participants.

Recipes adapted from “The Glorious Vegetables of Italy,” Domenica Marchetti, Chronicle Books (2013) Photographs by Sang An.

Chicory Salad with Anchovy Dressing

6-8 servings

Ms. Marchetti recommends Rizzoli-Brand Alici in Salsa Piccante for the anchovies, or the best Italian or Spanish ones you can find. Radicchio di Castelfranco is pale green with red speckles, you will likely have to substitute one of her suggestions. F.B.

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 garlic clove, pressed

4 anchovy filets in olive oil, chopped plus 1 tablespoon of the oil

1 tablespoon smooth Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon mayonnaise

2 dashes Worcestershire sauce

Juice of 1 small lemon

 

1/3 to 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 large head radicchio di Chioggia (the red, baseball shaped one), torn into large pieces

1 head radicchio di Castelfranco, or curly endive or frisée, torn into large pieces

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano

2 cups bread croutons, preferable homemade

In a small bowl, mix together salt and garlic to form a paste. Whisk in the anchovies and their oil, then whisk in the mustard, mayonnaise, and Worcestershire sauce. Whisk in lemon juice. Drizzle in the olive oil, whisking constantly, until dressing is thick and emulsified.

Place the radicchios in a large bowl and toss together. Pour dressing over and toss to combine. Sprinkle the cheese on top and toss again. Transfer to serving bowl and top with croutons. Serve immediately.

Potato and Mushroom Gattō (Cake)

6-8 servings

1 1/2 pounds mixed mushrooms, cut up (portabello, chanterelle, cremini,  shiitake, oyster)

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 clove garlic, crushed

3 pounds yellow potatoes, such as Yukon Gold

Kosher salt

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

1/2 cup heavy cram

2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Butter for pan and to dot surface of gatto

3 tablespoons dry bread crumbs

4 ounces smoked Scamorza or mozzarella, diced

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, diced

Steep garlic clove in olive oil for one hour, then discard garlic. Toss cut up mushrooms in oil, salt and pepper to taste, and roast at 425 degrees for 25 minutes, turning once.

Boil potatoes in a large pot for 25-30 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside until just warm.  Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Peel potatoes and cut into large chunks. Press through a ricer in to a large bowl (or use potato masher). Add cheese, cream, parsley, egg, salt, and a generous grinding of pepper. Fold everything together gently but thoroughly.

Lightly coat a 10-inch round cake pan or baking dish with butter. Coat bottom and sides with 2 tablespoons of the bread crumbs. Spread two-thirds of the potato mixture into the pan. Scatter Scamorza over potatoes. Spread mushrooms on top of Scamorza. Scatter the mozzarella over the mushrooms. Spread remaining potato mixture over mozzarella.

Create swirly pattern on top with a fork if you like. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon bread crumbs on top and dot surface with a little butter.

Bake the gatto uncovered for 30-40 minutes, or until browned and not throughout. Let rest 5-10 minutes before serving.

 

 

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