In October, The Italian Garden Project was invited to La Scuola di Eataly to celebrate the beauty and bounty of the Italian American vegetable garden during a Meatless Monday cooking demonstration and dinner. Using garden-fresh produce provided by our Italian American gardening friends, Chef Alicia Walter delighted the dinner guests with an amazing array of vegetable-based dishes, two of which are shared below. (see end of post) La Scuola resides in Manhattan’s mega Italian marketplace, Eataly.
It’s clear from the moment you walk in the door that this is not going to be your ordinary trip to the supermarket.
The perfect marriage of grand architecture…
and clean, modern design sets the stage for a unique and exhilarating experience.
Eataly offers seven restaurants, each adjacent to the market area that provides its fresh ingredients, such as handmade pasta at La Pizza & La Pasta.
Le Verdure features vegetables from the abundant produce market.
The highest quality cheeses and salumi are sold in the market…
…and served in La Piazza.
In La Scuola, Chef Alicia was busy all afternoon transforming the vegetables into culinary masterpieces.
That evening, she wow-ed the Meatless Monday audience with her creativity and skill…
…preparing original, imaginative dishes (above) and several delectable traditional ones such as fried stuffed olives, and farrotto with wild mushrooms and truffle butter. (See recipes below). We can’t wait to team up again in the spring to share more old school gardening wisdom and unforgettable food and recipes.
Olive all’Ascolana Vegetariane (Fried Stuffed Olives Vegetarian-Style)
40 olives, preferably Nocellara olives, with the pit
1 cup walnuts, toasted
½ cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
2 cups oyster mushrooms, trimmed and cut from the stem
2 tablespoons hot pickled peppers
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1 egg, beaten
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the Breading:
2 cups flour
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups breadcrumbs
2 cups blended oil
Preheat an oven to 325°F. Place the walnuts in two shallow baking trays and heat in the oven until fragrant and toasted, but not burned. Remove the baking trays and let the nuts cool.
Increase the heat of the oven to 425°F. When the oven reaches 425°F, toss the mushrooms in olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast the mushrooms until they have released their liquid and are caramelized.
Place the cooled walnuts in a food processor and pulse them until they are chopped in fine pieces. Be careful not to process them too much so that they become walnut butter. Their texture should still be crumbly. Remove the walnut pieces and pour them into a large bowl. Next, pulse the pumpkin seeds in the food processor until they are fine pieces. Add the pumpkin seeds to the bowl with the walnuts. Then, place the mushrooms and the hot pickled peppers in the food processor and puree until the mixture is uniform. Add them to the bowl as well.
Sprinkle the nuts and mushrooms with Parmigiano Reggiano and pour the egg on top. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
Starting with the end of the olive that is not connected to the stem, peel with a paring knife so that the flesh comes off of the pit in a spiral. Take a pinch of the mushroom filling and roll it into a small pellet. Stuff the olive with the filling and then roll the flesh around the filling.
Heat the blended oil in a small saucepan with tall sides until it reaches a temperature of 325-350°F. Test the temperature by sprinkling the oil with a pinch of breadcrumbs. If the breadcrumbs rise to the top of the oil and sizzle, then the oil is the correct temperature.
Place the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in three separate bowls. Bread the olives by first dipping them in the flour, then the eggs, and then the breadcrumbs.
Carefully drop the olives in the oil with a spoon and let them cook, turning them so they brown evenly on all sides. Remove from the oil and place on a plate lined with paper towels. Enjoy immediately, but don’t burn your tongue!
Farrotto con Funghi & Burro ai Tartufi Neri (Farrotto with Oyster Mushrooms & Black Truffle Butter)
6 cups sheepshead mushrooms, trimmed and cut from stems
2 sprigs thyme
¼ cup shallots, chopped
½ cup white wine
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup farro
4 ounces dried porcini mushrooms
¼ cup black truffle butter
¼ cup Parmigiano Reggiano
Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
Soak the farro in a bowl for 1 hour with enough water to cover the farro by ½-inch.
Strain the water from the farro into a medium stockpot and add enough water to bring the total volume to 4 cups. Add the dried porcini mushrooms and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
In another medium stockpot, heat the olive oil over high heat. When the oil just begins to smoke, add the sheepshead mushrooms in one layer along with the sprigs of thyme. Be sure not to overcrowd the mushrooms and work in batches, if necessary. Once the mushrooms are caramelized on the bottom, season with salt and stir. Continue to cook the mushrooms until they are wilted. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the mushrooms to a bowl. Pick out the sprigs of thyme.
Place half of the mushrooms in a food processor and blend with half of the truffle butter. Set aside.
Add the shallots to the stockpot and allow them to sweat until soft and translucent. Add the drained farro and sauté until the excess water is evaporated and the farro begins to look and smell toasted. Add the wine, a healthy pinch of salt and cook until the alcohol has evaporated. Next, ladle in enough stock to just cover the farro and stir until the stock is evaporated and the bottom of the pan is dry. Continue adding the hot stock and stirring as the stock evaporates. Cook until the grain is al dente.
Take the farrotto off of the heat and add the pureed mushrooms, remaining truffle butter and Parmigiano Reggiano. Stir in the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately.
Chef Alicia says: As always, these recipes are meant to serve as guidelines. Cooking is not always an exact science so enjoy making it your own!
Recipes courtesy of Eataly