Italy RecipesTuscan Summer Feast
Late August, early September is a period in flux, with neither the heat of summer nor cool breezes of fall. In Tuscany, the bounty of summer vegetables dwindles, and Galavante has selected Italian dishes that capture late summer on a plate.
Garden-fresh vegetables take center stage and swim in a light soup with chewy farro. A fig, escarole and Prosciutto salad with a Balsamic reduction follows, but can sit on the same plate with the roasted orata with olives and herbs. Arriving on cue, Italian prune plums that spent a minute warming in a hot pan alongside a dollop of ricotta cheese drizzled with honey, finish the meal.
Italian in origin, minestrone is a thick vegetable soup, often with a grain or pasta added. Every Italian region has their variation. This late-summer dish has more broth and is lighter than the more traditional versions that include cannelloni beans, escarole or cabbage.
Cook farro first. In a 3-quart saucepan, add 4 cups water, teaspoon salt and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid and simmer for about 45 to 60 minutes or until farro is slightly chewy but firm. Drain farro, transfer to a bowl, set aside.
While farro is cooking, make soup. In an 8-quart stockpot, add oil and heat over medium-high heat. When oil is hot but not smoking, add the onion, stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add the carrot, celery, leek and garlic; stir and cook for 3 minutes. Add zucchini, green beans and vegetable stock; stir well. Add the salt, black pepper, basil and oregano; stir well. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat, cover with lid and cook about 45 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
When vegetables are cooked, add farro; stir to incorporate. To serve, pour 1 1/2 cups of soup into a bowl, garnish with parsley and parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
Yield 6–8 servings
Escarole seems, well, forgotten – left behind in the wake of trendy kale. Not so fast – this salad lets escarole’s crisp yet tender leaves and slightly bitter edge shine. A perfect foil for seasonal sweet figs, salty Prosciutto and a Balsamic reduction that will give your taste buds a good jolt.
In a small saucepan, add Balsamic vinegar and over low-medium heat, reduce liquid by half or until it has thickened slightly. Remove from heat, transfer to bowl and let cool.
In a large mixing bowl, combine lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, black pepper and extra virgin olive oil; mix well. Add escarole in the large bowl and toss gently.
Divide escarole among 6 small plates. Evenly divide figs and top with Prosciutto pieces. Using a tablespoon, drizzle the Balsamic reduction over each salad plate. Dig in!
Yield 6 servings
Preheat oven to 400°. Rinse each orata with water and pat dry with paper towels. Brush both the outside skin and inside cavity of each orata with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle outside and inside cavity generously with salt and black pepper. Place 3 lemon slices in the cavity of each fish along with a bundle of herbs and sliced garlic. Place orata on an oiled baking sheet pan, distribute olives on pan and place into the middle rack of oven and roast for about 20–25 minutes. Orata is perfectly cooked if the flesh is opaque in color.
To serve the fish, first remove the skin, discard. Using a fork gently push the opaque flesh onto to a large spoon and transfer to a plate. Repeat until one side of the filet has been removed. Behind the gill, pick up the backbone of the fish and in one swift motion peel away and discard. The second filet is now visible. Again using a fork transfer the flesh to another plate. Repeat with the remaining two orata. Garnish with the roasted olives, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and flaked sea salt.
Yield 6 servings
Rinse plums, slice in half, remove and discard pit. In a large sauté pan, heat over medium-high and add plums. Using a spatula stir quickly. Heat plums for about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and divide warm plums among 6 small plates. Place a dollop of fresh ricotta cheese on top of warm plums and drizzle with honey.
Yield 6 servings