Summer vegetables are at their peak, and we have to admit we're up to our cheeks in heirloom tomatoes, garlic and eggplant from the likes of Sage Mountain Farms, Maciel Farms and Schaner Farms. So let's revisit the real flavors of mediterranean cuisine. Do as the Romans do this week and set yourself up for a delectable and carbohydrate loaded Italian feast.
We're giving you the freedom to be creative here and let the produce inspire you. Be brave, and be colorful! (We won't blame you if you stop by Mona Lisa, Filippis or Buon Apetito Market on the way home, to pick up a nice bottle of red wine before cooking up a rich, sensational meal.)
Start with "antipasto", or appetizers. Toasted bruschetta (say: brew-sketta) always pleases crowds and can be served hot or cold as you linger in good conversations. Pick up a fresh baguette from Bread & Cie, rub the slices with local garlic, freshly chopped basil from Rivera Treasure Garden (or make it easy with a pesto from Basiltops), and drizzle with organic olive oil from Gourmet Delights or Marion's. Now, move on to the first course, "primo". Visit Poppa's Fresh Fish for frog legs - yes, Italians eat them too - or fresh sea urchin. Serve in small portions, just after you've whet your appetite with the antipasto.
Take home a few pounds of heirloom tomatoes from Kawano Farms or JR Organics to make a homemade, spicy red sauce and create something tantalizing with those voluptuous eggplants from Suzie's Farm, or their emerald skinned zucchini. Mary at Taste Cheese can provide the burrata.
There are so many options; you might try braising some grass fed beef short ribs from SonRise Ranch for the secondo (main dish) and serving with a steamy, buttery squash ravioli pasta from Lisko Imports and broccoli rapini from Vang's Farm for your contorno (side dish).
Every meal must end with dolce, or sweets, and a juciy nectarine from Smit Orchards, a handful of almonds from Hopkins AG with a scoop of rich, creamy gelato from Pappalecco will end your meal in a sugarplum dream… Mangia Bene!