Tuesday, March 16, 2010

SALTIMBOCCA ALLA ROMANA: A Composition of 3 Ingredients

OK, so I was all snarky about Mario Batali on the Today Show doing a segment called Saltimbocca Alla Romana and then preparing 3 dishes that weren't.  So here's the classic dish as it's been served all over Rome for decades, a simple composition of 3 main ingredients: veal, prosciutto, and sage.  (One example  of the Flavors of Rome.) Besides that you need butter, a little white wine, and toothpicks.

I learned how to make this dish in all its beautiful simplicity many years ago at the Pepe Verde Cooking School near the Pantheon in Rome.  Of course, the challenge is finding top quality veal and proscuitto as well as fresh sturdy sage leaves.  The toothpicks should be a snap.

Saltimbocca Alla Romana
Veal Scallops with Prosciutto and Sage
A classic Roman recipe, molto semplice, from Scuola di Cucina Pepe Verde, Rome. 

12 veal scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds), sliced thin and pounded (not paper thin however)
12 slices thin prosciutto slices, trimmed a bit shorter in length than veal scallops
12 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter 
1/2 dry white wine
Salt and pepper to  taste
Compose veal bundles by laying a slice of prosciutto on top of each veal scallop, then top with  sage leaf, and secure with a toothpick.
Melt butter in large non-stick skillet.
On high heat, place veal bundles sage side down for one minute and then turn on the other side for another minute. 
 Season with salt (unless prosciutto is salty) and pepper.
Lower heat to medium and cook until veal is lightly golden brown, about 4 minutes.
Raise heat and add wine, scraping bottom and sides of pan, for about another minute.
Serves 6

Monday, March 8, 2010


Robert Browning probably never made it to Rome in March during all his years living in Italy.  If he had, he would surely have eaten a Roman artichoke and then, forgetting all about England in springtime, would have written "Oh to be in Rome now that artichoke season is here."

I, on the other hand, have been in Rome for every artichoke season since 1996 - except for this year.  I'm not happy, but I'm dealing with it.  And hoping some late bloomers will still be around in April

My friends have been speculating for years as to why I go to Rome every March. Maybe I've been rendezvousing with a mysterious Italian lover (they'd be sick with jealousy), sneaking off to experience the rejuvenation powers of a thermal spa (they'd be jealous of this, too), or maybe reaffirming my faith at a Vatican-sponsored religious retreat (they'd probably question this one)? Love does play a role here, and I certainly do get a physical and spiritual boost, but the object of my passion happens to spring from the rich, humid earth of the Roman countryside. I go to Rome every March because artichokes are in season.

And a Roman artichoke, unlike a lover, never disappoints.

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