Robbio is a farming town in Lombardy, near Alessandria, not too far from the Piedmont border. In the heart of rice-growing country, Robbio is surrounded by paddies, which produce Italy's famed Baldo, Arbono, and Carnaroli rice. Da Mino, a small restaurant located in the center of town, specializes in typical rural dishes of the area, and I was particularly taken by Chef Enrica Abatte's unusual fresh vegetable carpaccio. Made with produce from the garden of Pietro Lorizzo, her husband and the restaurants owner, the macerated paper-thin vegetables came to the table lightly chilled, tender, and full of texture and flavor.
When I have the time, I prepare the carpaccio as they do at Da Mino, but when I don't want to wait, I simply toss all the vegetables and seasonings together and serve it immediately. The styles are different; both are delicious. Try this with a light, luscious, and dry red, such as Bonarda dell'Oltrepó Pavese.
4 medium zucchini, trimmed and
cut into paper-thin rounds
2 teaspoons best-quality red wine vinegar
2 small red bell peppers, stemmed, seeds and pith
removed, cut into paper-thin strips
Fine sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
2 cups arugula, rinsed, patted dry,
and torn into bite-size pieces
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved
into paper-thin curls (see Segreti)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1. Cover the bottom of a 12-inch round nonreactive dish with a layer of the zucchini, using half the rounds, slightly over-lapping them in concentric circles. Using a pastry brush, brush half the vinegar as evenly as possible over the zucchini. Scatter half the bell pepper slices over the zucchini, then season lightly with salt and, if desired, black pepper. Arrange half the arugula leaves on top with half the Parmesan cheese curls. Drizzle with half the olive oil and season lightly again with salt and, if desired, pepper. Repeat the layers using the remaining ingredients.
2. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours. Remove from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving.
To shave Parmesan cheese, use a vegetable peeler and simply "peel" the curls from the hunk of cheese, holding it right over the salad.
Italian Farmhouse Cookbook
By Susan Herrmann Loomis
Paperback: $16.95, ISBN: 0-7611-0527-1
Hardcover: $28.95, ISBN: 0-7611-1791-1
480 pages, Illustrations throughout
Recipe reprinted by permission.
This page created September 2000
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