Grazie, Marcella (and Laura…)

One of the cornerstones of my cooking for the past 30 years has been Marcella Hazan.  Her first two cookbooks provided many of the fundamentals I’ve used ever since in extracting the essential goodness of wholesome, fresh food.  Yes, I had a jumpstart on that process from Margaret and Franco Romagnoli in the mid 1970’s, with their TV show, cookbook and Boston restaurant.  And yes, I was influenced (as many of us were) by Julia Child (another Bostonian) even before that.  But today the core of my approach is still based on Marcella.

Well, much to my surprise and delight, this past weekend our friend, Laura, invited me over for a marvelous vegan supper at her house, and she prepared three stunning vegetable dishes from Marcella’s Italian Kitchen cookbook, a book I’ve owned for almost 20 years, but one I have just rediscovered, thanks to that meal.  That was the inspiration for tonight’s supper — on my own — as I prepare for two more classes later this week.

1-dinner plate closeup-31

The dinner was not complicated:

  • my own multigrain Tartine bread, toasted, with black bean puree and roasted red pepper puree, made a few days ago
  • Carote e Belga, slowly-browned carrots and endive/radicchio
  • Zucchine alla Salvia e Vino Bianco (sautéed zucchini with sage and white wine)

Fortunately, I had the components all ready for the bruschetta, and I enjoyed the deliberate and colorful process of making the two vegetable dishes over the next hour and a half, so I am happy to share these with you.

1.5-Carote e Belga 2-carrot medley-50 3-carrots 1-4%22 thick-55 4-carrots sautéeing-37

5-radicchio - endive-00 7-carrots and chicories-28

Not content to follow directions to the letter, I decided to shell some of the fresh fava beans I had bought at the market, for a little contrast to the sweetness of the carrots and the zucchini.  I blanched them and added to each dish.  I picked some fresh sage in the garden, and then sliced the leaves thinly, along with the garlic.  Great dish, with the white wine to finish the zucchini sticks in the pan.  I used a Laura Aschero Pigato as a starter, then finished with Paolo Bea’s amazing 2010 Santa Chiara from Umbria, an orange colored wine with overtones of Seville orange flavors, fresh and charming.

8-cooked favas-27 8.5-Zucchine alla Salvia e Vino Bianco 11-sauté garlic and sage-20 12-sautéed zucchinis-28 13-zucchini and pepper puree umami-33

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