Chef White brings an Easter meal with a modern Italian twist. We doubled our regular budget to $80 so he could serve six people in style. On the menu, Spring Calamari Salad, Molise-Style Braised Lamb and Italian Easter Crostata
Calamari: Calamari and squid are the same thing. It has a firm, chewy texture and mild flavor. Be careful not to overcook calamari or it becomes rubbery.
Molise Style: Molise is a region of southern Italy. The cuisine of Molise is uncomplicated, rich in vegetables and pork, spiced with chili peppers and sauced with tomatoes.
Crostata: A simple traditional Italian dessert of a pastry shell filled with jam. Chef White pours a ricotta cheese filling on top of his jam before baking in the oven.
Spring Calamari Salad
1 lemon, juiced
Salt to taste
3 pounds fresh cleaned squid, cut into rings
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 cup fresh blanched spring peas
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, chopped
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Pinch dry oregano
salt and pepper
pinch of chili flakes
1. To a large pot of boiling water, add lemon juice and salt. Add squid rings and cook for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Drain.
2. Combine onion, celery, garlic, parsley, herbs, olive oil, halved tomatoes, peas, salt, pepper and vinegar with the cooked squid. Serve cool, or at room temperature.
Agnello alla molisana (Molise-style Braised Lamb)
3 pounds lamb (shoulder or shanks boned), cut into pieces
1/2 cup olive oil
1 1/2 pounds potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 large onion, finely sliced
1 rib of celery cut into fine dice
6 cloves of garlic
2 cups of dry white wine
1 28-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 sprig fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon of oregano
Chili flakes to taste
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees
2. Season the lamb with salt and pepper.
3. Put the oil into a Dutch oven and heat to medium high, add the lamb, and cook, stirring, until the pieces are browned.
4. Add the onions, celery, garlic and potatoes, followed by the wine, tomatoes, chili flakes and the herbs.
5. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer it to the oven. Let it cook until the lamb is fork tender and the potatoes are done, about an hour and a half. Add a little chicken broth if the dish starts to dry out.
Italian Easter Crostata
Use your favorite pastry crust recipe, or buy a 10-12 inch unbaked shell
2 cups whole milk ricotta cheese
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest of one orange
1 cup orange marmalade
(10-11 inch) tart pan with removable bottom
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface into a 10-12 inch round, depending on the size of your chosen pan. Transfer the dough carefully to the pan and trim.
3. To prepare the filling, mix together the ricotta, sugar, eggs, zest and vanilla until well blended.
4. Spread the marmalade across the bottom of your pie pan, and pour the ricotta mixture on top of it. Bake for about one hour or until golden. Remove from the heat and cool.
5. When cool, remove from the tart shell, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.