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What does tuna capaccio have to do with sports? We have what we call sports TV dinners. When there is a sports event such as the upcoming US Open Tennis Tournament, or a baseball, football world series, or the Olympics, these are TV dinner nights. No, not frozen TV dinners, but moving dinner from the dinning room table to the cocktail table. We don’t often eat in front of the TV, but a sports event is a good excuse. Not that we make it less formal, as we still have a nice table setting, candles and of course wine.
On these evenings when we want something easy but still special. We might grill pizza in our fireplace, make a fondue or a racellette with boiled potatoes and conichones. Sometimes we get a little fancier and have caviar with chopped egg yolk, chopped egg white and chopped onions, or smoked salmon with toast. But when we can get fresh sushi style tuna, it is tuna carpaccio every time.
We start by buying excellent quality fresh tuna; it is warped in plastic wrap and put into the freezer for about 15 minutes. During this time I toast pignoli nuts and let them to cool. Chop fresh basil and slice sun dried tomatoes. When I have black olives from Puglia I’ll slice slivers and put this aside.
When the tuna is just beginning to freeze, remove it from the freezer and slice it very thinly. Layer the slices by overlapping them covering the dish completely.
The next step is sprinkling the nuts, basil, sun dried tomatoes and olives if you have them over the top. For this dish I like the flavor of light extra virgin olive oil from Puglia. This oil is perfect for fish, as it doesn’t have the strong pungent Tuscan oil flavor that is great for salads but not for fish. Next I sprinkle a few large grains of Mediterranean Sea Salt over the top, use the salt very sparingly. The salt is crunchy and adds a nice salty flavor when you bite a grain of salt now and then.
A nice light good quality Prosecco pares very well with this dish.
For dessert I like to have a cool lemony sorbeto drink. In summer I mix some lemon sorbet with half & half cream and lemoncello and beat it in the blender. If it is winter it will be my homemade Limoncello. Limoncello helps to naturalize the salt and fish taste. It is perfect after a fish dinner.
And then with some nice placemats and a candle burning we enjoy our favorite TV dinner and the game.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Yield: 2 people as a main course
1 lb Sashimi quality tuna
8 Sun dried tomatoes
1/2 cup pine nuts (pignoli)
Extra Virgin Olive oil (very light)
Sea salt (medium or large grain)
Put the tuna in the freezer for about 15 minutes. You don’t want to freeze it, but it should be at the point where it is just beginning to freeze. This makes it easier to cut paper-thin slices. Lay the tuna slices on a plate slightly overlapping them. Refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
Toast the pignoli nuts in a non-stick sauce pan. This can be done without any butter or oil. Remove them from the heat as soon as they start to brown; let the heat from the pan continue to brown them. They brown very fast and can easily burn. Put them aside to cool.
Julienne the sun dried tomatoes and olives if you have them and set them aside.
Just before serving, sprinkle the tuna with the sea salt. It gives a very nice taste to the tuna and also adds a little crunch. Roughly chop several pieces of fresh basil and set them aside.
Just before serving, sprinkle the toasted pine nuts, basil and sun dried tomatoes over the tuna. Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over the top of the capaccio and serve cold.
A fresh dessert drink – Sorbetto Al Limone
Limoncello: Sorrento’s Liquid Gold
In Italy there are many alcoholic drinks that are favorites as a digestive. To name a few are Grappa, Moscato, Vino Santo and Prosecco for example. But Limoncello has become one of the world’s favorites in recent years. Although it was well know in Italy, the world has gotten to know the deep yellow after-dinner drink of Limoncello recently. Prior to that it was produced in small productions and mainly drunk in Italy.
Although many areas of Italy produce Limoncello today, it originated in Sorrento. The “oval” Sorrentino – the denomination of geographic Indication (IGP) was granted in November of 2000 and can be found on the bottles from the Sorrento region. This IGP of the Sorrento lemons opened up a whole new commercial opportunity for the area. The lemons grown in this area originally were exported, but today about 40% are sold for fresh consumption and 60% are used to make Limoncello. The Sorrento lemons are medium-large, with a thick, rough, light-yellow skin, an intense aroma and are rich in essential oils. They have a pleasant flavor with a low number of seeds. The key for Limoncello is the oil in the skin and the color of the skin, as it is just the rind that flavors and gives the rich yellow color to the liquor. The maceration of the peel with alcohol and sugar slowly develops the aroma and color.
The unique fresh taste and the aroma of Limoncello is an excellent digestive served cold. Especially after a meal with strong flavors, Limoncello refreshes the palate. The bottles are stored in the freezer and I also put the glasses in the freezer for about 10 minutes or so before serving.
Many Italians make Limoncello themselves. Along the Almalfi coast there is hardly a house that doesn’t have lemons growing in their garden.
Limoncello is used to flavor gelati and cakes, poured over fruit and can be used with shrimp or other fish dishes.
I make Limoncello once a year and store it in our wine cellar – keeping one bottle in the freezer ready for a digestive. I have prepared bottles as gifts to give friends who come to visit or for Christmas gifts. Very small bottles can be made as favors for a wedding or parties. One recipe goes a long way. It is a different idea that makes people really happy.
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: N/A
Yield: 1 1/2 quarts
9 large lemons
4/5th bottle Vodka
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
Wash the lemons and using a vegetable peeler remove the skins making sure that you do not remove the white part of the lemon.
In a large jar, place the skins and the vodka and seal tightly. Place the bottle in a cool location for 3 weeks or more.
Remove the lemon skins, strain the liquid and add the sugar and water. Allow the mixture to stand outside the refrigerator for about 2 days or until the sugar is dissolved. Pour the Limoncello into bottles and store in the refrigerator or freezer.
When serving Limoncello put the glasses in the freezer for about 10 minutes and pour the Limoncello into the ice cold glass.
I make Limoncello to give to my very best friends and family for Christmas gifts. Create your own label – they will appreciate that you took the time to make such a special gift.
For those who would like to read the history and legends of Lemoncello, view the following web site.