It is time to harvest nettles here in NorCal, and the first thing I make with them each year is a lurid green nettle pesto to put on pasta or mix into rice or spread on bread.
Some days you remember forever. This tuna fishing trip was one of them. I spent a couple days, 40 miles off North Carolina, in search of tuna. We found them. Oh yes, people, we found them… and with the trimmings of those great fish, I made these Sicilian meatballs.
Called strangolapreti — “priest stranglers” — in Italian, these dumplings made with breadcrumbs, cheese and a green thing (spinach, amaranth, chard, etc) are easy to make and are a great vegetarian main course or side dish for something meatier.
Yellowfin tuna grilled rare and served over a Sicilian-style salad of tomatoes, olives, onions and herbs. What’s not to love?
Wild onions, ramps especially, make a great pesto. This is my version, which is pretty classic — but you can play with pesto a lot, changing the nuts, cheese and herbs at will.
When I was growing up, I thought “antipasti” meant pickled cauliflower, carrots and onions because that’s what was served in the old-style Italian joints I ate in. Well, I managed to recreate the recipe for their pickled cauliflower here.
This is about as springtime as it gets. Fresh garden peas, served with light-as-air gnocchi made with pea puree, tied together with a little butter and cheese. Just a lovely light supper.
Fennel salami, finocchiona, is an Italian staple. There are lots of variations on this salami, but they all require a decent addition of fennel seeds. My version has wild fennel seeds, fennel pollen and ouzo.