Question: What do Massachusetts, California, Peru, India, Greece, Spain, Costa Rica, Italy, and Germany all have in common?
Answer: They each provided significant contributions to my lunch today, a relatively simple affair of Bruschetta with Vegan Ricotta and Thinly-Sliced Beets and Sweet Onion.
Among the many things I’ve learned from Chad Robertson’s book, Tartine Bread, is a love of pan-roasted, whole-grain bread slices. Since I had made my fresh rye bread two days ago, I thought I’d do something with bruschetta for a late lunch this afternoon. Scanning the refrigerator, I selected several items and then was struck by the culinary geography of the components. As a person who loves to cook and eat, I reveled in the diversity and quality to which we have access. And as a Supply Chain Management guru, I understand what it actually takes to bring these all together.
Here’s a look at the key elements:
Massachusetts. Lovely, rich, naturally-grown, red beets, from Crooked Row Fields in Concord, MA. This is our CSA. I bought the beets recently, steamed a bunch and had one left in the refrigerator, which I sliced thinly on a mandoline.
California. Kite Hill Ricotta made from Artisan Almond Milk by a producer there. This wonderful vegan Ricotta is sold by Whole Foods Markets, and it has opened up a world of dishes I had left behind when I limited or eliminated cheese intake.
Peru. The source at this time of year for sweet onions.
India. This one is a sleeper – Kala Namak, a volcanic rock salt mined in central India. I have found its strong sulfuric flavor does spectacular things to beets, though it is not to every diner’s taste. Ideal for a lunch for one.
Greece. A pickled pepper labeled Golden Greek Peperoncini, from Jeff’s Naturals, at my supermarket. This provided a jolt of accent flavor to a relatively mild dish.
Spain. Source of two of my three sacred ingredients – olive oil and Ibiza sea salt. Spain also provides another savory – almond stuffed green olives – for the plate.
Costa Rica. Fabulous, flavorful organic black peppercorns come from here. I won’t go into the fact that I buy them online from two women in Canada – it gets complicated. This, naturally is the third element of the holy trio: O S & P.
Italy. Almost everything I make relies on something from Italy. Today it was the Taggiasca olive oil I used in the small Cuisinart food processor to make a smooth purée of the ricotta and roasted red peppers. And, naturally, a bottle of red wine – Cardmone, from Reale in Costa d’Amalfi.
Germany. This is a unique contribution: the Fidibus grain mill I use every time I make bread, to mill my own whole-grain organic wheat, rye, and einkorn flours.
Making the dish was pretty simple.
- Cut two slices of rye bread (with caraway seeds), add olive oil for sauté pan, and pan roast the bread on both sides until toasted and brown.
- Make the purée with vegan ricotta (or cow’s milk if you prefer) with leftover roasted red pepper and Ligurian olive oil, adding salt and pepper to taste
- Thinly slice the beet, and then half or less of the sweet onion. Mandoline works best.
- Spread the ricotta purée on the toast. Top with sliced sweet onion and beets. Add sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Drizzle with finishing olive oil.
- Garnish with peperoncini and stuffed olives.
- Serve with a glass or two of deeply-flavored red wine.