Carpaccio di Zucchine & Panzanella
Massi begins with a carpaccio of zucchini accompanied by cherry tomatoes and black truffle pecorino. Named for Venetian painter Vittore Carpaccio, this delicate dish typically features raw meat or veggies thinly sliced and served in a sauce, in this case, extra-virgin olive oil. “It’s only a small portion, but it’s one you remember,” says the chef, who was born into the restaurant business. He drizzles the plate in an organic, cold-pressed olive oil, which retains a concentrated flavor that’s distinct against the crisp, salt-cured zucchini. “In Italy, people say the perfect olive oil wants its back to the mountains and its face to the sea,” he laughs. “Who knows if its true!”
The staple also dresses a simple panzanella bread salad often found on Tuscany’s home tables. In this traditional rendition, yeasty-sweet ciabatta softly contrasts with a vibrant mix of vegetables: spring onion, tomato, cucumber, and roasted pepper.
Carpaccio di Zucchine e Formaggio al Tartufo
- 2 medium, firm zucchini
- Coarse sea salt
- Cherry tomatoes, quartered (optional)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- Pecorino with truffles (available at specialty cheese shops)
- Italian parsley, for garnish
- 1/2 lb. three-day-old ciabatta (or other good bread), torn into chunks
- 2-3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1-2 Tbs. red wine vinegar
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- Few leaves of basil, julienned
- 1 small red bell pepper
- 4 firm heirloom tomatoes, quartered
- 4 spring onions, chopped
- 1 unpeeled cucumber, chopped
- Sharp aged pecorino, shaved, for garnish
Wash zucchini and thinly slice lengthwise. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and let rest for 10 minutes. (This draws out excess water.)
Using a dry paper towel, wipe off salt. Arrange zucchini and cherry tomatoes on a serving plate. Drizzle with olive oil (take care not to soak the zucchini, as this will make the vegetable soggy). Season with freshly ground black pepper.
Top zucchini and tomatoes with thin pecorino shavings. Garnish with freshly chopped Italian parsley.
Place bread in large bowl and add enough water to thoroughly moisten (amount will depend on age of bread). Soak for 30 minutes.
Using your hands and working in small batches, squeeze out any excess water from the bread, then transfer it to a separate bowl. Add extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar in small amounts, increasing as needed to taste. Season with salt, pepper, and fresh basil. Toss to mix well. Let rest for at least one hour.
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350°F. Place bell pepper on baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes. When cool enough to handle, peel off skin, remove stem and seeds, and chop.
Toss pepper, tomato, onions, and cucumber with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place seasoned bread in the center of a serving plate. Arrange vegetables around the bread and top with pecorino shavings (as much as desired).