Off course there are a lot of similarities and general rules - in general you always say, that the regional cooking of northern italy is mostly based on butter, whereas in the middle and the south the extra virgin olive oil is the main player.
Then there is the regional differences - in Todi "puntarelle" are pork ribs - normally cooked on the grill - if you head to Rome - "puntarelle" is a wintery salad, served with an anchovy dressing.
Right now the orto is producing heaps of cabbage - and our true favorite is the Cavolo Nero or Kale - the magic of this plant - you just keep on harvesting and the plant keeps on producing dark, crunchy and delicious leaves for you to pick.....in some places it is also called "palm cabbage" - because at the end of the growing season, it actually looks like a palm tree.
If you have a garden - make sure to plant some - it's a very versatile veggie - it goes into or with everything
When making the dressing we like to use the pestle and mortar - this way you get a slightly more rustic dressing and a better feel, when adding the oil. The croutons - we always toast in the oven - you use less oil and get a better crisp and crunch and instead of cutting them we tear them into smaller pieces - this way you will get a more interesting texture to the final salad.
800 g Cavolo nero
4-5 slices of day old sourdough bread
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
6 anchovy filets preserved in oil
1 small clove of garlic
zest of 1 lemon
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 egg yolk
250 - 300 ml extra virgin olive oil
100 g parmesan, coarsely grated or shaved
sea salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
Remove the stems from the cabbage - so you are only left with the actual leaves. Wash in cold water. Then drain and leave to dry. You want to remove as much water, so you don't get a sloppy dressing/salad - very often we use a kitchen towel. Cut the cabbage into smaller pieces.
Tear the bread into smaller pieces - we like to keep the crust on - but you can remove it, if you prefer. Drizzle with the 4 tbsp of olive oil - place in the pre heated oven and roast until golden and crispy - remove from the oven and place on some kitchen paper to remove excess oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Add the anchovies, garlic and lemon zest to your pestle and mortar and pound to a paste. Add lemon juice and the egg yolk and mix well.
Now gradually pour in the olive oil to make a creamy dressing. Season with salt and pepper - if the dressing is too thick - you can loosen it wth a few drops of cold water.
In a large serving bowl - add your kale and dress with the dressing - we always use our fingers to this - as you want to make sure all the leaves are coated. Add most of the parmesan and the croutons and mix well.
Adjust seasoning and sprinkle the rest of the parmesan and the croutons over the salad.
And there you have a little americana - with great italian produce.....