Civilizations are built in layers. The same can be said for memorable cooking. Diversity and contrasts are important to both.
Today’s lunch is one small example. Yesterday, I was at Clear Flour Bakery to buy some of their amazing breads. Among the goodies I brought home was a loaf of Rustic Italian bread. For lunch today, I started by pan frying two slices of that bread in olive oil. Separately, I prepared a small Radicchio di Treviso, sliced in half lengthwise and simmered slowly in olive oil, with salt and pepper. When the Radicchio was tender, I spread some sheep’s milk Ricotta cheese on the crusty bread, then topped it with Radicchio. The contrasts of crisp toast, smooth and sweet Ricotta, and the bitter, silky Radicchio made a delicious first course.
Many of the items came from the first shopping stop yesterday — at Eataly Boston. I love the produce and cheeses there. For the second course, I started with leftovers — some Cannellini beans and Cavolo Nero I’d cooked earlier in the week. Food52 had an inspiring article today about braising beans, so I sautéed chopped onion and garlic, added the beans and some leftover broth from vegetable soup, and simmered them together for 15-20 minutes. [It’s nearly impossible to overcook beans.] Then I added the Cavolo Nero and cooked it for another 15 minutes, with a little more broth.
As the beans cooked, I was reminded of some Spanish and Portuguese recipes in which such a mixture would be used as a sauce for a roasted fillet of cod. Instead of cod fish, I decided to used another vegetable — Arrowhead Cabbage. This unusual and delicious Brassica (also known as Conehead Cabbage) was one I found at Eataly and wanted to try. I had been told that it is sweeter and more tender than ordinary green cabbage, so last night I had roasted it in a hot oven and was happy with the results. Today at lunch I decided that one of the leftover roasted cabbage quarters would be a suitable surrogate for the cod fillet. It certainly was.
For the wine I had two open choices, and I chose the 2011 St. Joseph from Pierre Gaillard. It was a fortuitous choice.
To finish the cooking for the day I once again turned to one of my Greek vegetable favorites — Briami Me Maratho. It’s a little different each time I make it, and this was just right for tonight’s dinner.