Farro has long entered the world of food rock star. Once a humble grain, a staple in ancient Rome it is now found on the menus of every Italian restaurant from New York to San Francisco. There are actually some good reasons for this; farro’s distinctive nutty taste, delicate bite, and versatile nature make it perfect for adapting seasonal dishes. The instructions for preparing farro are universal. Once you have done so, it provides a blank palate for an infinite variety of dishes. This particular version is a family favorite and an excellent vegetarian entrée….
In searching for a simple cake, which used olive oil rather than butter, I stumbled upon Maialino’s straightforward rendition. Maialino is a gem of restaurant located in New York’s Gramercy Park area and part of Danny Meyer’s famed restaurant group; I think we will all agree that anything this man is involved with is worth visiting, starting with the Union Square Café. Maialino, features the essence of rustic Roman food including everything from Cacio e Pepe to Porchetta. No surprise since the English translation for Maialino is piglet.
Well, olive oil alone was not going to do it for me; I was searching for something that was nondairy to satisfy my dietary conscious daughter, La Levitt, as well as friends observing kashrut (which prohibits the mixing of meat and milk at a meal). Substituting almond milk for whole milk reflected my Calabrian roots, while increasing the amount of grated orange rind balanced the flavor nicely….
So simple, and so obvious, yet somehow many of us hesitate to pare things down to basic elements and quietly allow the flavors to merge. Summer is a time for outdoor entertaining at Casa Levitt and I am always searching for salads with a different twist that will complement our pizza (more about that in a later post). Of course, there are an endless variety of greens and vegetables available in northern California to star in that role, but there is something about the crunch of farm fresh thinly sliced celery combined with deep green parsley leaves, adorned with the most wonderful pecorino romana (thank you Katie Parla) and ultimately drizzled with a fruity olive oil and a dash of fresh lemon juice. I’ll let you decide……..
I so enjoy preparing my summer vegetable garden even though my modest crop is limited to herbs, a variety of tomatoes, and zucchini. Why zucchini you ask, I mean don’t you live in California where this is readily available? Of course I do but two zucchini plants per year provide me with a healthy production of delicate zucchini blossoms. Every so often I seem to miss the precise moment to harvest, and magically zucchini seem to appear in abundance. I beg you, please do not suggest that I begin large scale production of zucchini bread as this, in my humble opinion, is generally a gummy tasteless substance, primarily an unnecessary caloric blunder….