One of the best parts of this “At Home” business is that I always have time and space to create what I want for lunch. Last Thursday was another in the Bruschetta family of repasts, this time using the few remaining slices of the Overnight Whole Wheat bread I made last week.
As usual, leftovers played a major role in the affair. A few days earlier I had made a true Provençal version of Ratatouille. The recipe came from one of my older and rarely-used cookbooks, A Taste of Provence, by Leslie Forbes, 1987. It was different than most versions of the dish, in that each vegetable is sautéed separately and then reserved until the final assembly. It is a masterful touch; the dish was excellent, although next time I will cut the eggplant pieces somewhat smaller and cook them slightly longer.
Other leftovers included white bean purée and some seeded, chopped, and sautéed Padron peppers, from earlier in the week. For the wine, I wanted something sprightly, and I found it nicely in a bottle of Ameztoi Txakolina, from the Basque region of Spain.
There are a number of things Barbara does better than I do, and high on the list is making Polenta properly. She uses a great deal more water in the recipe, and she has the patience to stir it for 45 minutes or more. She also can be very creative in the saucing process. For this dinner she made a wild mushroom sauce, using fresh Shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted dried mushrooms — Chinese Shiitakes, Hungarian Chanterelles, Italian Porcini — and the reserved liquids from their soaking. To the chopped mushrooms she added finely chopped leftover Ratatouille (her version, without peppers). The resulting dish was visually stunning and gastronomically appealing.
Special dish calls for a special wine. I chose a Coutandin Ramìe, an unusual wine from northern Piemonte, imported by Jan D’Amore. I had just purchased a bottle from Eataly Vino. It was a 2016. When I went to my cellar to get it, I saw a 2013 bottle on the rack, so I took that one for our dinner. It was spectacularly good, another tribute to a group of obscure, indigenous grapes of Italy — and the hands of a skilled winemaker!