Believe it or not, the winter we have been experiencing in Southern Italy has been somewhat similar to the weather back in CT. We have seen snow a few times, it has been bitterly bone chilling cold, and trying to take inspiring pictures of farms when everything is dead and brown has proved to be quite a challenge. This all changed however, when we crossed the straights of Messina and arrived in beautiful sun kissed Sicily. It has been an explosion for the senses of colors, scents, and beauty as we tour the island. Hills of green grass, enormous palm trees, and fields of yellow and orange wildflowers pop against a backdrop of blue skies and shimmering oceans.
The last agriturismo we visited grew a variety of citrus and we were lucky enough to be there for a day of picking blood oranges. While most of the fruit makes its way into the kitchen, a portion of their yield is also sold for the making of perhaps Italy’s most delicious soda, Aranciata. We ate this appetizer one night at the Tenuta Roccadia agriturismo, and thought it to be a delicious wintertime bite of sunny Sicily.
Recipe: Grilled Provolone cheese with blood orange reduction and pistachio nuts
½ cup freshly squeezed blood orange juice
1 tablespoon mild honey
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 ½-inch thick wedges of provolone cheese
2 tablespoons chopped pistachio nuts
- Put the orange juice and honey in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the honey dissolves. Reduce the mixture until it is thickened and slightly syrupy, by about a little less then half. Remove from the heat and season with a pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper.
Heat a grill pan or griddle over medium high heat until smoking. Rub the pan with the olive oil and then grill the cheese until lightly golden and soft, 30 seconds to 1 minute per side.
Transfer 2 wedges of cheese to individual plates. Drizzle with the orange reduction and sprinkle with the chopped pistachio nuts. Serve immediately.