Tuesday, June 14, 2011
My last post was about being lazy. About getting to the end of the day and not really wanting to cook, yet having a family whose expectations I have managed to raise to a frighteningly high level. So the other day I threw together a quick, nourishing, yet delicious soup. That was fine up to a point.
Soup, and nothing else just isn’t a meal, right? Especially when that soup is basically 100% carrots and not much else. At this point, if you’re in the States, you’re thinking, just make a sandwich and be done with it. Well, I’m in Italy and sandwiches are not dinner fare. They really don’t even make it to the lunch table. Sandwiches are mostly something you grab while on the run, on the road. They can be really good (like the ones from the tripe stands in Florence) but they are never considered a ‘real’ meal.
Which is sad. Because I actually had the fixings for a great sandwich the other night. One of the stops on the culinary tour I lead in Rome last week was to Norcineria Viola, on Campo dei Fiori. While this is decidedly a temple to all things pork, I always end up buying a half a pound of pastrami. Not because I don’t eat pork ( I do, and in a big way). But because I’ve never seen pastrami for sale in Rome anywhere else.
I also had a big crusty loaf of bread from Roscioli, as well as a wheel of pecorino from Caseificio Giuliani up in Umbria. But since sandwiches have been banned for dinner by my Italian family, I tricked them. Rather than layering everything - plus some bright green arugula - between two slices of bread and calling it a panino, I artfully arranged it on a platter and called it a salad.
Aren’t I clever?
And isn’t it pretty?
Even though I used pastrami, feel free to substitute any cured meat or fish. I tend not to use prosciutto, since it’s hard to cut once you get it on your plate. But bresaola, smoked swordfish or salmon, lonza, even cured turkey breast are great substitutes. And you can play around with the greens as well, using spinach, radicchio or a mix of salads. Ditto the cheese, which should be hard enough to sliver.
I served it on a large platter, and let everyone help themselves. But if you want to get fancy, prepare a small plate for everyone beforehand. You know, like at a elegant dinner party.
250 grams/ 1/4 pound pastrami (or other cured meat or fish)
1 bunch of arugula
1 chunk of pecorino
salt & pepper
Layer the pastrami on a large platter in one layer.
Wash and roughly chop the arugula, and layer on top of pastrami.
Using a potato peeler, shave off pieces of pecorino and scatter them on top of the greens.
Drizzle with olive oil and lemon, and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Serve with a good loaf of bread.