A Simple Excuse for a Simple FeastBy Ilyse Rathet
March 20, 2019
Our good friends had just returned from Nome, Alaska, bringing back with them one of the bounties of the season: a fresh, Pink Salmon from the Summer run. The perfect centerpiece for a seasonal feast, a sagra del salmone of sorts.
Our part would be an appetizer and pasta dish. With the market full of summer produce and our pantry full of Ritrovo raw materials and condiments, we would create two welcoming dishes to lead the way to our sacred salmon.
To us, Summer is the season when the foods we find here “feel” the most like eating in Italy. With so many stunning seasonal vegetables, fresh-caught salmon, perfectly plucked fruits, newly-laid eggs, and abundant fresh milk cheeses, most dishes this time of year can be simple and fresh-ingredient inspired. No need for layers or added extras. Nature’s bounty can speak for itself on the plate. And so we savor gatherings with friends where this type of Italy-like (if not Italy-inspired) food fills the table.
To showcase the peak season of fresh green beans and field-grown local tomatoes, we decided to create a large Nicoise-style salad for our table on the sera della Salmone. Plus, some small new potatoes, like the Washington Ozette variety, could round out the dish. With a simple lemony vinaigrette, made from Casina Rossa lemon oil and Ritrovo Selections Organic Citrus Balsamic, the salad would be a light, refreshing opener.
Our pasta dish took inspiration from the freshest of summer greens. There will be time enough through fall and winter for the kales and cabbages, but we wanted to celebrate the small-leaved spinach and tender chicories that we were already relishing back in Italy in Spring. So we made a light puree of these, with a bit of onion soffrito, then “garnished” this with the pasta on top (our choice, Farabella gluten free trofie, as our friends are gluten free). We finished it simply with newly-arrived MammaMIa organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and just a pinch of Casina Rossa Sea & Salt as a kind of homage to the soon-to-be-roasted pink salmon, waiting in the kitchen to make its debut.
While we waited for our bottle of Pinot Noir to open up and the oven to preheat for the salmon, we laid out on a tray all the Ritrovo condiments in the kitchen that could be used to accent this beautiful pink wine. On a tray we arrayed the Casina Rossa Lemon oil and Ritrovo Organic Citrus balsamic, a jar of Casina Rossa fennel pollen, and the Le Ferre mint, caper and bergamot oils. They looked elegant and eager together, ready to enrobe the perfect flesh of our salmon.
Soon the Pinot Noir was poured into glasses all around, and the salmon emerged warm and glistening from the oven, with just a sprig of fresh dill on top. We sipped our wine and listened intently to our friend’s tales of fishing for salmon in Nome. How they prepared and filleting their catch, and packed it to send home. So as the salmon came from the oven we all gathered around it, noses taking in the lightly briny scent, and our minds roaming to the wild sea from which it had come. We looked over at the tray of beautiful Ritrovo condiments and…reached for only one. In true Italian style we had to feast on this fish in its most simple, form, letting our senses understand it just as it was, with just a touch of added flavor.
The highlight of our Summer evening’s Sagra del Salmone was reached as we savored tender forkfuls of roasted Alaskan pink salmon with a touch of Le Ferre mint olive oil. Mouths full, we all nodded together, savoring every bite of the long-awaited salmon. Tacitly agreeing: keep it simple, keep it Italy, keep it Ritrovo.
Ritrovo Insalata Nizza (Salade Nicoise) and Variations
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil:
¼ cup Casina Rossa lemon olive oil and
½ cup MammaMia Organic extra virgin olive oil and
¼ cup Le Ferre Caper oil
3 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Casina Rossa Sea & Salt to taste
For Italian style: Add 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped basil
For Asian style: Add 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped purple basil and 1 Tbsp. fresh chopped shiso leaf
Mix dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake or whisk together. Chill overnight or several hours. Taste and adjust ingredients as desired.
Passata Leggera with gluten-free pasta
Light Green Vegetable Puree with Gluten Free Trofie Pasta and Ritrovo toppings
Ingredients for 4 servings:
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 white onion or two shallots, chopped
3 cups cooked and drained mixed dark leafy greens
3 Tbsp. MammaMia Organic extra virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish
Saute the carrot and onion in olive oil until tender OR place in a pan with olive oil and cook slowly in a 325 degree oven until tender.
Place the cooked greens with the cooked carrot and onion in the container of a high speed blender. Add hot water to cover. Process until smooth. Add water as desired to make a thick puree.
Now, cook One bag Ritrovo Selections Farabella Gluten Free Trofie.
Drain and toss with extra virgin olive oil.
Place puree on the bottom of a plate to cover. Top with ¼ of the cooked trofie. Drizzle with olive oil.
Top with any of these Ritrovo condiments:
Spoonful of Ciacco Pesto Rosso
Sprinkle of Casina Rossa Sea & Salt
Sprinkle of Radici Organic Pinenuts, either whole or ground finely into a kind of pinenut “dust”
Large spoonful of Casina Rossa Antipasto Misto