Yes, I am quite envious of Matthew Scialabba & Melissa Pellegrino who got to live one of my dreams. For 4 months, they traveled around Italy's agriturismi, harvesting grapes, making goat cheese, hunting for local venison. I'm also thankful that they shared so much they experienced in their cookbook; not just recipes, but stories of the families they met along the way. They sent me a copy of their book several months ago, and it's taken me a while to sit down with it and take it in. I still have much I want to cook from it, but today, I finally picked out a recipe to try, a simple salad of cabbage, pear and orange.
This recipe is definitely not what you'd think of if you think of Italian cooking, and that's one of the reasons that I picked it. I appreciate the fact that this is not simply a cookbook of those recipes that everyone thinks of when they think of Italian food, but gets deeper in to what people really eat. This particular recipe is from the chapter on Casale Cjanor, an agriturismo/poultry farm in the San Danielle region of Friuli. Recipes in this region are heavily influenced by Germanic and Slavic roots, and you'll find all sorts of ingredients that wouldn't come to mind when thinking about Italian food.
Cabbage and Pear Salad (Insalata di Cavolo e Pere)
From The Italian Farmer's Table
The original recipe calls for green cabbage, but I had red cabbage on hand and I love the vibrancy it adds. Feel free to use either red or green. I think this salad would also work well with a handful of toasted walnuts tossed in.
1 or 2 large orange
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1/2 head cabbage (red or green)
1 pear, cored and thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, sliced into half moons
1 tablespoon poppyseeds
Start by peeling the orange. I like to do this with a knife even if the oranges peel easily, to remove all the pith and white membrane. Once peeled, section the orange in small segments, and catch the juices that spill as you go. You want to have between 1 and 2 tablespoons of juice, so if needed, squeeze a bit more. I like the dressing quite citrusy.
Whisk together the orange juice, olive oil, vinegar and a bit of kosher salt & pepper, and set aside.
Shred the cabbage and place it in a medium bowl. Then, add the pear, celery and poppyseeds. Add a pinch of salt and pepper, followed by the dressing. Toss to coat.
To serve, place a mound of the cabbage and pear mixture on the plate, and top with two to three orange segments.