|When you’re in the Italian countryside, there’s really nothing that can be referred to as “work,” despite spending 14-hour days prepping or visiting local markets and villages. It’s all just as relaxing as wandering the grounds of the 500-year-old farmhouse we are staying in as Elliott and I continue to lead an “adventure” in Tuscany for Laguna Culinary Arts. The time is flying, and there is so much to write home about, but I must limit myself because I know I’ll be edited. Of course, I do have to share (via photo) the most amazing cappuccino that I have ever had (and I’ve had my fair share).
Don't worry: I'm figuring out how to get the gentleman who made it for me to come spend some time sharing his talents with Orange County!
Right now, I’m preparing for a cooking class on risotto to take place tomorrow, but today, I made a Fresh Seafood Salad and Grilled Octopus with Polenta! Our farmhouse overlooks the Pescia river valley, about 25 minutes outside of Lucca, and I’ve been blessed with some great local seafood.
I would love to share the recipe for the octopus now, but I may have to save it for when I get back.
For now, the salad – which is a little more manageable for all those chefs out there – is a delicious dish that one can attempt at home. Again, this is my recipe for a group of 20, so please adjust accordingly and ciao for now!
1.88 pint extra virgin olive oil
1 1/4 cup orange juice
5 oz. lemon juice
1 1/4 oz. of ground black pepper
2 1/2 navel orange (zest)
7 1/2 navel oranges
7 1/2 fennel bulbs
1 1/4 qt. white wine
45 P&D, 21/25 shrimp
20 U10 scallops
30 squid tubes and tentacles
5 oz. Italian parsley
1 1/4 oz. whole fennel seed toasted and crushed
To taste, fine sea salt
To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and the citrus juices. When emulsified, whisk in the pepper, salt to taste, zest and the fennel fronds. Set aside.
Working with 1 orange at a time, cut a thin slice off of the top and the bottom to reveal the flesh.
Stand the orange upright and remove the peel in wide strips, cutting downward and following the contour of the fruit.
Cut the orange horizontally into 1/2 slices, then cut each slice in half.
Remove all the seeds.
Place the fennel in a bowl, add half of the vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly.
Divide the fennel among 8 salad plates, forming a bed on each one, or arrange the fennel in a bed on a large platter.
Top the fennel with the orange slices.
In a saucepan, bring the wine to a simmer over medium heat.
Add the shrimp and poach gently until they turn pink and are cooked through, about 4 minutes. Do not overcook.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shrimp to a bowl.
Add the scallops to the pan and simmer gently until just opaque-about 2 minutes.
Transfer with slotted spoon to the bowl holding the shrimp.
Add the squid to the pan and cook until they turn opaque, about 1 minute. Scoop out with the slotted spoon and add to the shrimp and scallops.
Drizzle about 1/3 of the remaining vinaigrette over the seafood and coat.
Distribute the warm seafood over the orange slices; add the remaining vinaigrette, the chopped parsley and the cracked fennel seeds.
Serve warm or at room temperature.