OF CULTURES AND CUISINES
At Walter's Aquaviva, a sleek Providence, Rhode Island bistro, a handful of guests are extending the Passover season over braised lamb and fish -- traditional Jewish holiday fare, but with the Italian accents of garlic, saffron, and red wine.
Americans may associate Italy with
Catholicism, but it also boasts
For 20 years, Walter has honored this confluence of ancient tastes and cultures with a special Passover menu offered for two or three nights during the eight-day festival. This year's Passover celebration at Aquaviva will be April 12-13. The following recipes have been adapted from Walter's menu:
Tomato and Matzo Soup
Egg and Vegetable Tart with Leeks
Gratin of Snapper Florentine
Lamb Braised in Red Wine
Strawberry Sabayon with Macaroons
EGG AND VEGETABLE TART WITH LEEKS
(Tortino de vendure ed uova con porri)
This is Walter's version of a Swiss chard tart
that originated in the Italian port city of
6 large eggs
2 leeks, white parts only,
washed and julienned
2 large Swiss chard stalks, thick stem
removed, washed and julienned
(may substitute equal amount
of fresh spinach)
4 asparagus spears, thinly sliced
Pinch saffron threads
Pinch ground cinnamon
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,
divided, plus extra for
2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 Tablespoons medium-ground matzo meal
3 large roasted peppers
1 clove garlic
garnish of fresh baby greens
or mesclun mix, toasted walnuts
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and heat oven to 300 degress F. In a medium mixing bowl, beat eggs, then add leeks, Swiss chard, asparagus, saffron, cinnamon, 2 Tablespoons olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix well and set aside.
Brush the bottom and sides of a 9-inch cake pan with olive oil; line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit. Grease the top of the parchment paper. Sprinkle an even layer of matzo meal onto the greased surface. Bake 5 minutes.
Pour the egg-vegetable mixture into the pan and place in the oven. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. (A little wetness is fine -- the tart will continue to cook as it rests.) Cool before serving.
Combine peppers, garlic, and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and puree in a food processor or blender. If the mixture appears too thick, add a Tablespoon or more of water to thin.
Cut the tart into wedges and place on serving plates. Spoon the pepper-garlic puree over the top or on the side of each wedge and garnish with greens and walnuts.
Total time: 1 hour; active time: 15 minutes.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings.
TOMATO AND MATZO SOUP
(Minestra di ponodori e azzime)
To make this soup even more refined, pass the
tomatoes through a food mill to remove the seeds
before adding them to the pan. Canned whole
plum tomatoes are the best choice for this
recipe, since they are packed at the height of
ripeness and pre-peeled.
6 cups vegetable stock
2 pounds plum tomatoes, peeled
2 sheets matzo, crumbled
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 basil leaves
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher or sea salt and
freshly ground pepper,
garnish: chopped fresh basil,
extra-virgin olive oil
In a large pot over medium-high heat, combine stock, tomatoes, matzo, garlic, basil and olive oil; bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring often to crush the matzo into the stock. Discard the basic leaves and season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped basic and a drizzle of olive oil.
Total time: 1 hour; active time: 30 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings
GRATIN OF SNAPPER FLORENTINE
(Gratina di pesce alla fiorentina)
5 Tablespoons olive oil, divided, plus
extra for greasing
3 Tablespoons finely ground matzo meal
(sold as "cake meal")
2 cups non-dairy milk
1/2 cup vegetable stock
1/2 pound fresh spinach, julienned
kosher or sea salt and white
pepper, to taste
freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
1 sheet matzo, coarsely crumbled
4 8-ounce snapper fillets (or other
firm white fish)
Heat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium sauce-pan over low heat, combine 3 Tablespoons olive oil and cake meal, stirring until a smooth paste forms. Cook 3 minutes. Whisk in non-dairy milk and vegetable stock, and raise heat to bring to a boil. The sauce will thicken considerably. Remove from heat; add spinach and blend well. Season with salt, white pepper and nutmeg. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and set aside.
In a bowl, combine crumbled matzo and 2 Tablespoons olive oil. Work the mixture with your fingers to form a semi-wet consistency.
Grease a casserole dish with oil. Cover the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of sauce. Place fish over the sauce and spoon remaining sauce over the fish. Top with crumbled matzo.
Bake 20 minutes, until the fish breaks when a fork is inserted on the bottom and lifted. Serve at once.
Total time: 40 minutes; active time: 15 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings
LAMB BRAISED IN RED WINE
(Brasato d'agnello en vino roso)
This hearty main course pairs lamb beautifully
with roasted new potatoes. To save yourself a
step, have your butcher prepare the meat.
3 pounds boneless leg of lamb,
cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 sprig fresh rosemary
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 whole bay leaves
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup red wine
2 cans whole tomatoes (28-ounces each),
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
kosher or sea salt and freshly
ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch red pepper flakes
In a large bowl, combine lamb, 1/4 cup olive oil, rosemary, garlic, and bay leaves. Place in refrigerator two hours or overnight.
In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add remaining olive oil. Remove lamb from marinade (shake off excess) and sear in the hot pan to brown on all sides. Do not crowd the pan; if necessary, work in batches. Remove lamb to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Lower heat to medium and add onion; cook until softened. Raise heat to medium-high, add wine, and use the liquid to scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Add tomatoes and tomato paste and stir well. Return lamb to the pan.
Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower temperature to simmer and cover the pan. Cook 35 to 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Remove lid; raise temperature to high and reduce liquid by half. Season with salt and pepper and add a pinch of red pepper flakes. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Total time: 3 1/2 hours; active time: 45 minutes.
Yield: 6 servings
STRAWBERRY SABAYON WITH MACAROONS
(Zabaione di fragole e amaretti)
to the warm custard without overpowering it.
fortified wine, such as port
5 egg yolks
2 egg whites
4 Tablespoons sugar
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
6 Italian macaroon cookies,
crumbled (such as Amaretti di
Saronno brand or KLP equivalent)
Garnish: ground cinnamon
Fill a medium saucepan one-third of the
way with water and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Place a large mixing bowl on top of the pan,
being certain that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the simmering
Remove the pan from heat. Arrange sliced strawberries on the bottom of four shallow serving bowls. Pour warm sabayon over them and sprinkle crumbled macaroons over the top. Finish with a light dusting of cinnamon and serve.
Total time: 45 minutes; active time: 35 minutes.
Yield: 4 servings.
source: Yankee Magazine / April 2006