I hope you're as excited to enhance your Italian-ingredient department as I've been to put this box together! I love to cook in an Italian-influenced way (and love everything from braised northern stews to simply-prepared seaside fish to delicate antipasti), and I can't wait to have folks dive into this assortment of delicacies.
Here’s what’s in the box:
- Toasted fregola sarda, from La Specialita di Maja
- Grilled borettane onions and grilled artichoke halves, both in sunflower oil, from Castellino
- Garlic-infused extra-virgin olive oil from Le Ferre, in Puglia
- Culinary powder from Michelle Ferrante, in Campania
- Calabrian chilis in oil, from Iasa
- Espresso Chocolate from Ranger, in Portland, Oregon
Toasted Fregola Sarda
Made from organic durum wheat in Abruzzo, this toasted fregola sarda is almost like a more flavorful version of an Israeli couscous. Here are a few of my favorite uses so far:
- Topped with (or even cooked in) something saucy/soupy, like a chunky arabiatta with a protein added, or a creamy, lemon-chicken soup, almost like an avgolemono.
- Added in with sautéeing vegetables and protein, with a little broth and something creamy (sour cream, cream cheese), for a warm, risotto-like preparation (also something I like to do with the pearled barley in this month's Essentials box)
- Cold, it's great as the base for a pasta salad. Just add chopped veggies and whatever else you want, plus some of the Le Ferre garlic oil, a drizzle of the Calabrian chili, a dusting of your culinary powder, some of your antipasti, chopped, and all you'll need otherwise is salt, pepper, and a hit of citrus or vinegar.
Grilled Onions and Artichokes
I tried to choose between the two, and ultimately couldn't, so you get both!
I think the artichoke is the "finer" of the two items -- everyone loves a delicious artichoke (or, at least, they should!). The borettane onions are the more surprising taste to me -- smoky, sweet, and with some crunch, I've been tossing them on and in just about everything I can since I got my hands on them.
Here are a few top uses:
- We'll start with the obvious: On an antipasti board! Maybe add some cheese, honey/jam, olives, crusty bread, and some tinnned seafood, and you'll be in *excellent* shape the next time you need hors d'oeuvres.
- In a sandwich: I've especially enjoyed adding slices of the grilled onions to breakfast sandwiches. The artichokes would be awesome with salami, cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic.
- Chopped into a salad, like the one described above for the fregola sarda
This oil from Le Ferre, a top, artisanal extra-virgin olive oil producer in Puglia, is truly delightful. I've often shied away from flavored oils, preferring to infuse on my own as needed, but I'm loving this one. Key note: You should use this oil raw/not-heated as much as possible to preserve the flavor (this is generally true of all high-end extra-virgin olive oils). There's nothing harmful about heating it, but you'll just lose a bunch of the flavors.
Here are a few of my favorite uses:
- This is an easy shortcut to chopping up garlic for your dressings and sauces; just use this instead of the other olive oil you might've used (or mix in some, depending on how much garlic you're interested in)
- Drizzle atop bruschetta or other crostini
- For a simple pasta sauce, just drizzle some of this onto your pasta once drained, along with salt, pepper, and parmesan, and you're good to go. You can add some chopped parsley and toasted breadcrumbs to get "fancy."
Perhaps the most unusual item in this month's Delicacies Box, this culinary powder is a blend of rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and sage, ground to a fine powder.
Michelle Ferrante produces amazing, small-batch products on his farm in Campania. I first fell in love with his chili powder, and I'm excited about this mix. It's basically a shortcut to the Italian countryside: you can use it as a topping for just about anything, add to anything from salad dressing to soup to scrambled eggs, or just sprinkle some on your next sandwich. You can't really go wrong here.
Calabrian Chili in Oil
This is basically the platonic ideal of chili oil -- just Calabrian pepper, olive oil, and salt.
It's spicy, yes, but also deeply flavorful, while still not overpowering when used in moderation. Use as a finishing note anywhere you'd like to add a bit of heat.
While not "from" Italy, what's more Italian than a proper espresso? Enjoy this delicious bar from Ranger, whenever the mood strikes.
Looking for this month's Essentials Box post? Find it here.