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Oct 1, 2011 01:57 AM

October 2011 COTM: Splendid Table: Antipasto, Risotto, Soup & Vegetable First Courses

Please use this thread to discuss and review recipes from the chapters about Antipasto, and Risottto, Soup and Vegetable First Courses.

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  1. Salad of Tart Greens with Prosciutto and Warm Balsamic Dressing, Pg. 26

    Fantastic salad. Tons of flavor sensations from all the ingredients. The dressing was so intriguing: acetic, oily, salty, sweet... just warm enough so the greens did not wilt. Could be a main dish salad with the addition of a few other ingredients. But as it was, it was delicious. We added unseasoned fresh ciabatta croûtons to mop up the dressing. I halved the recipe.

    The first thing to do is soak a very thinly sliced red onion in some vinegar for 30 minutes. I made the dressing next: In hot olive oil slowly cook minced garlic for 8 minutes without coloring. Remove from pan and set aside. In the same oil add a combination of red wine vinegar and balsamico and cook for a few minutes then add a bit of brown sugar. Stir then add the reserved garlic and season with S & P. Set aside while you finish the salad.

    The salad consists of the rinsed and torn leaves of romaine, radicchio, red leaf lettuce, curly endive (chicory)., basil and parsley. I used the inner leaves of all these greens. Also, thinly sliced scallions, chopped prosciutto, pine nuts (omitted), and shaved Parmigiana Reggiano are tossed to mix then arranged on a platter. Reheat the dressing for a bit then drizzle on the salad adding the drained red onion slices, a smattering of more pine nuts, cheese and prosciutto. I simply put everything into a large vintage wooden bowl and tossed the salad as usual. We enjoyed this salad very much and the dressing was wonderful. I'm going to use it for other vegetables as well...think roasted red peppers, steamed broccoli...

    The main dish was roasted Haddock with fresh salsa. That's really all we needed for a terrific dinner.

    17 Replies
    1. re: Gio

      I wear my cookbook. It's an apron that I wear when I make my 'arrabbiata minestrone denso' that I eat every morning from breakfast to keep in total cholesterol and blood glucose values down. The minestrone can be used as a 'prima' at dinner.

      The apron states "I don't need a recipe...I'M ITALIAN." The ingredients tend to vary for each 12 breakfast batch made in a very large stockpot.

      1. re: ChiliDude

        I don't _need_ to use recipes or cookbooks either, but sometimes it's nice to see what someone else has to say on a subject near and dear, such as eating and cooking in Emilia-Romagna.

        Sure, there's the way I do things, and I like the way I do things, but what's wrong with learning other ways? I'm going to make a new (to me) ragu out of LRK's SPLENDID TABLE, and a seafood salad out of Joyce Goldstein's ANTIPASTI this week.

        Even though eating Italian is one of my earliest influences, and I'm a pretty old dog by now, there's always some new trick to be learned. Speaking of which, I really like your idea of eating minestrone for breakfast. I think I'll try it, too.

        1. re: ChiliDude

          My heritage is Italian, Chilidude, as far back as gone so far: the 12th century, both on my Mother's and Father's side. So I have many family recipes and inspirations to accompany my ventures in the kitchen. However, it's edifying to recreate recipes others have experienced and written about. I don't Need a cookbook either. But it's fun to use them.

          1. re: Gio

            I miei antenati non erano italiani, ma i nonni di mia moglie erano venuti da Italia. Our grandchildren can go back only 5 generations, and altho my genes are not Italian, I'm the family historian. My late father-in-law made sure that I knew some of the family history.

            I'm the risotto cook because I have the patience and creativity to make risotto. My wife of 51+ years is the risotto critic.

            1. re: ChiliDude

              Sì. Capisco le vostre risposte da altri ...

              In my house I'm the designated risotto cook becauce my husband, di 51 anni più anche, has neither the patience nor inclination. He likes to eat it though.

        2. re: Gio

          I am going to make that this week - yum!

          1. re: bayoucook

            Although I'm a devout carnivore, my ingredient list for 'arrabbiata minestrone denso' includes 2 kinds of dried beans, lentils, split peas, barley, onion, celery, carrots, a large can of crushed tomatoes, baked sweet potatoes mashed, minced garlic, a head of green cabbage and minced fresh or frozen peperoncini (of course, some extremely incendiary) either homegrown or bought. Sometimes the midribs of chard or kale if my wife has bought it and has removed the ribs from the leaves. Leftovers often are tossed in the 8-quart stockpot. The cooking water from the beans is reserved and used.

            The resulting minestrone is a thick bean stew and the yield is enough for at least 12 breakfasts stored in 2 serving plastic containers.

            Buon appetito!

            1. re: ChiliDude

              Wow! That healthy mixture would cure anything.

              1. re: bayoucook

                Imola's Risotto of the Vigil, p. 214

                This is a wonderful one pot meal that will have you returning to the pot for seconds. It is a hearty dish with sautéd cabbage, beef and salt pork incorporated into the risotto. I know it is customary to make risotto just before serving but I have found that this particular risotto holds well on the stove for up to two hours before serving. Just undercook the risotto slightly and add a bit more stock and cheese prior to reheating and serving. Leftovers make a very special version of aranchini.

              2. re: ChiliDude

                quite an improvisation! looks like it would set you up very well for the day. No onions, carrots celery or parsley?

                1. re: jen kalb

                  I don't see parsley either but I do see, "onion, celery, carrots"...

                  1. re: Gio

                    I must be blind. sorry, chilidude

                2. re: ChiliDude

                  All my favorite things! I am curious why baked and mashed sweets instead of just cooking them along with other ingredients?

              3. re: Gio

                I enjoyed this recipe too. One suggestion though--- if you have a big enough platter, I'd recommend following her advice and serving it on the platter. Like you did, I tossed the ingredients in a bowl. This resulting in a damn tasty salad, but the prosciutto crumbled up, and several ingredients settled on the bottom of the bowl.

                1. re: hyperbowler

                  Many thanks for this tip, hyperbowler. Since I was cooking for only 2 of us I thought I'd take the easy way out and only have to clean my wooden salad bowl. I did notice the prosciutto had crumpled but because we tossed the salad several times and once before serving I didn't notice any items without dressing on the bottom. I'll remember your caution though.

                2. re: Gio

                  Salad of Tart Greens with Prosciutto and Warm Balsamic Dressing, Pg. 26

                  I should have followed Gio's lead here and served this hearty salad as the LONE accompaniment to a simple main like grilled fish or steak. It would also, as Gio notes, make a nice main dish salad. I served this w/grilled ribe eye and wild mushroom "farrotto," and it made for a too busy meal. This salad needs to play a bigger role in a meal.

                  Still it was as delicious as I remembered, having made it a few times many years ago.

                  For the greens, I used a mix of radicchio, red leaf lettuce, baby romaine, and arugula. And since we enjoy raw red onion (and I was short on time), I skipped the step of taming it in RW vinegar. I had no fresh basil, unfortunately; that said, we could really taste the parsley, which was particularly good. I also didn't end up adding brown sugar to the dressing and used twice as much balsamic as RW vinegar. I love the prosciutto, pine nuts, and shaved parmigiano in this salad--but think it would be excellent w/out the prosciutto, too.

                  1. re: Gio

                    Salad of Tart Greens with Prosciutto and Warm Balsamic Dressing, p 26.

                    Finally made this last night as the first course for a dinner party, and I must add to the accolades. It is a very fresh-tasting and tasty dish with an agreeable and varied mixture of textures and a delicious warm garlicky-balsamic dressing. I followed the directions and first tossed the undressed greens and various other ingredients together, then spread them out on a platter, then topped it all with some reserved pine nuts, cheese, prosciutto, scallions, and red onion, and THEN ladled the warm dressing over at the table. I served my eight guests on their salad plates at the table, and it was a nice moment. Some had seconds!

                  2. p. 16 marinated baby onions.

                    The recipe was straightforward and easy. I used a mixture of the biggest red, white, and yellow baby pearl onions I could find, none of which had a diameter as big as what she specifies in the recipe. For the balsamic vinegar, I used Trader Joe's gold label. For the wine, I used Charles Shaw Cabernet....

                    I got nervous when I unearthed these after 7 days in the fridge. They were pretty slimy looking, so I drained them before any guests could see. The initial impression aside, the recipe was a huge success. These were some of the best marinated vegetables I've ever eaten. They had a good balance of sugar and acidity, and they tasted great by themselves and even better with some prosciutto di parma.

                    p. 18. I followed the recipe to the letter. By themselves, the marinated vegetables were unbearably acidic. Looking in my cabinet, I realized that I used a 7% acidity white wine vinegar. If you want to make this recipe, I'd recommend using a 6%. However, these did work nicely when paired with some fatty salami-- the acidity did a nice job of cutting through their fat.

                    1. Paola Bini's Potato Salad (Insalata di Patate Paola Bini), Pg. 19

                      This salad was outstanding. G & I couldn't help but pick at the bowl as I mixed all the ingredients together even though I had to omit one of the main ingredients. Ideally, I should have made the Balsamic Vegetables on page 18 first and used 1 1/2 cups of that. That's essentially Giardiniera, so I suppose prepared Italian pickled vegetables could be used in a pinch but I didn't even have that. Nevertheless, what I did put together was wonderful.

                      We steamed 2 pounds of small red-skinned potatoes and while they were cooking I made the dressing:
                      Into a large bowl I put diced leeks, celery, red wine vinegar (to compensate for the vegetable marinade), balsamic vinegar, sugar, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. When the potatoes are just tender cut into a large dice and add to the bowl bit by bit, as they are sliced, but don't stir yet. When all the potatoes are in the bowl, gently fold the potatoes into the dressing. Cover and refrigerate till served, then taste for S & P and garnish... I used chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves.

                      This was delicious! I must say, though, the color of the salad was decidedly beige. The garnish did help and the flavor saved the day... but.. Perhaps the balsamic vegetables would have made a difference... we'll see because I do intend to make that recipe in the very near future. This salad accompanied the poached fish from The Italian Country Table and Garlic Sautéed Cabbage on page 331 of The Splendid Table. Altogether a terrific meal.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Gio

                        oh, that sounds so good - finally looked forward to cooking from COTM cookbooks and I'm having heel problems - plantar faciitis - still working but am off my feet off work. Maybe by next week I can participate.

                        1. re: bayoucook

                          I am with you Bayoucook. The fates are conspiring against me this month in terms of cooking. My DH is traveling for the first 1/2 of the month leaving me to fend for myself with my brood. The closest I have come to cooking lately is making lobster tacos. The good news is I have lost nearly 5 lbs. since I stopped cooking (I also rejoined WWs) so that might have something to do with it. Hope to be back on my game by next weekend.

                          Hope your foot feels better soon.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Thanks, I have been working really hard on it! So much more difficult to shed the pounds as the years creep by.

                        2. re: Gio

                          I will agree that it is outstanding ... and it is even better with the Balsamic Vegetables. Wow. I will do a post below on them but it is worth the effort. Best. Potato. Salad. Ever.

                        3. Paola Cavazzini's Eggplant Torte, p. 241

                          Wow. A lot of work, but wow. An unusual dish, with a couple of unusual components. It was time-consuming, but fun to put together. Definitely use real Italian Fontina, as the taste is important to the dish. (I place a cube of cheese on top of each eggplant slice.)

                          Pretty labor-intensive for a first course. I would start the meal with a green salad, then serve the Torte over angel hair pasta (the eggplant is very "saucy."), or accompany with crusty garlic bread.
                          Fruit for dessert.

                          Note: You can make the 3 sauces days ahead.

                          1. Valentino's Pizza, p. 29

                            Well, this is certainly easy to do. Store-bought puff pastry base. Topping is sauteed onions and shredded carrots, fontina and parmesan cheeses. My husband and I thought this was fine - good enough, but probably wouldn't make it again. My guests, on the other hand, loved it and ate tons.