Monday, 28 April 2008
Venetian ways with vegetables
Looking back on my Venice trip the best value dishes have been the vegetable side dishes called contorni. The best selection was in a small veggie-focussed (rather than strictly vegetarian) restaurant called La Zucca where there's a large menu of them, mostly at 5 euros a dish. A selection of four or five made a great tapas-style meal for two. There's also no reason why you couldn't adapt the idea to entertaining at home.
Here are some of the dishes we ate there
Sauteed zucchini (courgettes) with thyme
Boiled fennel with an arrabiatta (tomato and chili) sauce with olives (above)
Stir fried carrots with soy and sesame seeds
Broccoli all' aglio, olio e peperoncino (with garlic, oil and chili)
Potato 'tortino' with courgettes, peppers and aubergines and basil oil (a bit like a roast veggie lasagne)
Rucola (rocket) rocket salad with mushrooms and parmesan (the mushrooms were sliced on a mandolin which made them look fabulous)
What's great about these dishes (apart from being economical) were how easy they were to throw together. The most complicated dish was the potato tortino which needed to be served hot - but no more difficult than a veggie lasagne. You could serve the other dishes at room temperature and they can be (and were) dressed with oil and vinegar at table.
I can't wait to get back and try them out. (Actually I probably can, given it's blazing hot here and forecast to be pouring with rain when we arrive back in Bristol tomorrow!)