When I traveled to Italy last year to learn more about true Italian food, I heard the same thing again and again – pick top quality ingredients and cook them simply. Or, to put it another way – let the ingredients shine. It has become the way that I prefer to eat – a drizzle of one premium ingredient, or a sprinkling of another can elevate the humblest ingredients to something rather special.
Truffles are one of the rarest and most sought after ingredients in the world – with a mystique of their own and hunted by many. Known as the diamond of the kitchen they are revered by chefs and diners. Being so rare they are very expensive, and the white truffle, the rarest truffle, is one of the most expensive foods in the world with some specimens selling for a massive EUR100,000!
Most white truffles come from Italy; famously from Alba in Piedmont, where Celebrity Cruises’ Executive Chef, John Suley, bought two white truffles at the World White Truffle Charity Auction for EUR302,000. The truffles will be used on-board Celebrity’s ships as part of a new truffle inspired menu.
Truffle has a highly concentrated flavour and a little goes a long way – it is readily available, as well as relatively affordable in oils, honey, mustards or butter. If you are lucky enough to have a fresh truffle, use it to flavour other ingredients before you use it – pop it into a bowl of eggs for a few days, then make the most decadent scrambled eggs ever.
Inspired by my travels around Italy I’ve topped a simple bruschetta with roasted tomatoes, a sprinkle of truffle gremolata, then a few stalks of griddled asparagus – simple and full of fresh flavours.
- 2 tbs parsley – chopped
- 2 tbs basil – chopped
- 2 tsp white truffle oil
- juice & zest half a lemon
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- 10 baby plum tomatoes
- 2 tbs good quality olive oil
- 2 slices sourdough bread
- 10 baby asparagus spears
Mix all the ingredients for the gremolata together, check the seasoning and adjust if needed.
Put the tomatoes in a small ovenproof dish with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt and freshly ground pepper and roast at 200C/GM6 for about 30 minutes until the tomatoes are soft.
Heat a griddle pan over a hot, but not too fierce heat. Brush the remains of the olive oil over the bread and asparagus spears. Cook the bread for a few minutes each side, pressing it onto the pan with a spatula. Cook the asparagus for a couple of minutes, turning half way through.
To serve, scatter the tomatoes over the bread and drizzle any juices over, sprinkle some of the truffle gremolata on the tomatoes, arrange the asparagus on top and finish with the remains of the gremolata and a drizzle of truffle oil.