VENETO MARE FOR TWO - step by step instructions

The Veneto is a large region, much of which is not coastal, but Venice is, of course, the jewel in the crown. The Venetian lagoon harbours all kinds of sea creatures; from majestic bass & turbot to the rather unpleasant looking – a lagoon goby that is nevertheless transformed into a risotto that is the delicacy of Burano (not including lace, of course). Here we have scallops baked with parmesan crumbs, and risotto stained black with the ink of the cuttlefish it is cooked with. These are foods that have been treasured here for centuries, finished with a dessert that has existed for just a few decades, yet conquered the world.

 

For your meal you will need: 

  • A tray for baking the scallops
  • A wide saucepan or deep frying pan for the risotto

 The detailed recipes for the dishes are below, but in essence:

  • Pop the scallops on a baking tray, dot with butter & crumbs, and slip into a hot oven for 6-10 minutes, until golden and crisp, then eat
  • Warm the cuttlefish stew, then add the rice, and cook the two together until delicious, then sprinkle with gremolata
  • Dress the tomatoes & basil with salt & oil, then eat these and the risotto
  • Decide you’re too full for dessert, then change your mind and scoff the tiramisù

Baked scallops with breadcrumbs & parmesan

Italians will tell you there is a cardinal rule that seafood must never, ever, be served with cheese. What they don’t tell you is that they’re really not very good at obeying rules. Here we have a rule-breakingly good dish of scallops baked with parmesan crumbs, scented with lemon zest and thyme. Mum’s the word.

Your pack serves two and contains: 

  • Two fat scallops, on the half shell
  • A little butter
  • Some Breadcrumbs, flavoured with parmesan, lemon zest & thyme
  • Half a lemon

Directions

  • Preheat the oven to 230C (fan) or 240C (static)
  • Season the scallops with salt & pepper, then dot with the butter
  • Loosely mound the breadcrumbs atop, then pop into the oven
  • Bake for 6-10 minutes, until the crumbs are crisp and golden, and the scallops lightly cooked
  • Serve with the lemon

 

    Risotto nero, cuttlefish & gremolata

    There is something dangerous and sexual about black food, as though it might be best enjoyed in a dungeon. Without colour we are blindfolded – what could the ingredients be? What do they taste like? And is that the clatter of forks and spoons, or my chains rattling again? Black food offers a means for the tame and the oppressed to develop a taste for the dark side. 

    Your pack serves two and contains:

    • Vialone nano rice, par cooked by us with fennel, wine & ink
    • Cuttlefish, braised till meltingly tender in its own ink
    • Gremolata
    • Some good butter & even better oil 

    Directions:

    • Place the cuttlefish stew into a wide pan, and add 275ml water
    • On a medium heat, bring this to a simmer then add the rice, and break up any clumps with a wooden spoon
    • Increase the heat to high, and cook the rice and cuttlefish together until the rice is just cooked and still with bite, and stirring regularly, for 10 to 12 minutes (if too runny, or you want the rice particularly al dente, cook on a high heat to reduce the liquid; if too gloopy or you want the rice to become softer, add a little more water and cook to the desired texture)
    • When ready, remove from the heat, then beat in the butter, oil and half the gremolata
    • Taste and adjust the seasoning
    • Pour onto warmed plates, and sprinkle with the remaining gremolata

    Merinda tomatoes, olive oil & basil

    Crunchy, mildly acidic & saline, these tomatoes are very different to their plump summer brethren, and to my mind, superior. They are at their best when part green, part red, and offer a fantastic crunch and deeply savoury flavour. Tossed with a little good oil and fresh basil, they form the simplest and most beautiful salad of all.

    Your pack serves two as a side and contains:

    • Some merinda tomatoes
    • A little fresh basil
    • Some beautiful olive oil

    Directions:

    • Remove from the fridge at least 30 minutes before eating
    • Chop into rough chunks
    • Season well with coarse salt, tear in the basil and douse with some of the oil (you’ll probably have a little spare – use it for dunking bread)

    Tiramisù

    There is something insanely satisfying about retro foods, and tiramisù is no exception. It is almost the definition of a cliché dessert – very safe… and very vanilla, to couch it in a bedroom term. It is hard to describe my delight when I learned its origins are not so salubrious as one might imagine. Tira-mi-sù means ‘pick me up’ – a rather charming name for a cheery pudding, spiked as it is with espresso. The academy of tiramisù (yes, there is such a thing – Italy treats its culinary heritage with due import, and every dish of note has its own guild or knighthood or foundation) tells a different story: ‘… this dessert was invented by a clever “maitresse” of a house of pleasure in the centre of Treviso. The “Siora” who ran the premises developed this aphrodisiac dessert to offer to customers at the end of the evening in order to reinvigorate them and solve the problems they may have had with their conjugal duties on their return to their wives.’ Not such a frumpy dessert after all...

    Your pack serves two and contains:

    • A tiramisù, to share

    Directions:

    • Remove from the fridge 10-15 minutes before eating, to take the edge off
    • Spoon gently onto plates, then eat

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