Civilizations, and Lunch

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.

Briami Me Maratho

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