Asked to suggest a recipe that celebrates the reopening of Le Sirenuse for the 2018 season and the arrival of la bella stagione in Positano, Gennaro Russo, executive chef or our La Sponda restaurant, came up with this vitamin-packed half-soup, half-salad, that makes the most of the year’s first tender herbs and vegetables.
A passatina is simply a light purée that can be served hot or cold (a passatina di ceci, for example, is a chickpea purée, typically served warm with a garnish of shrimps or prawns and a drizzle of olive oil). Gennaro’s twist on the genre is to make the garnish of greens and herbs as important as the ‘soup’ part of the equation – you may even want to eat the greens with a fork before turning your attention to the delicious passatina.
1 medium potato
2 celery stalks
3 young tender zucchini (courgettes)
200g silver beet
200g fresh spinach
200g lamb’s lettuce
a few leaves of baby beet (the kind with purple-red veins and stalk)
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
salt and pepper to taste
First remove a few tender leaves of parsley, basil, celery and lamb’s lettuce to use in the garnish (check the photo at the top for quantities). Also prepare two large bowls of iced water.
Then dice the zucchini into 1-2cm cubes and toss into a pan of boiling water with the beet (cut out the tough central stalk), spinach, rocket, parsley and basil. Remove the vegetables from the pan after two minutes and throw them into one of the bowls of iced water for a minute or so (this helps to preserve their freshness). Take out a few zucchini cubes for the garnish, then drain all the remaining vegetables, add the vegetable stock and a dash of olive oil, and reduce to a purée with a mouli or stick blender, or sieve through a chinois. Put aside.
Dice the potato, carrots and celery and toss into a pan of boiling water. Remove after three or four minutes and throw them into the second bowl of iced water.
Heat the spring green purée in one pan, and in another, toss the drained carrots, potato, celery and the few zucchini cubes you kept aside earlier in a little olive oil. When both the purée and the diced vegetables are at the required serving temperature, pour the purée into soup bowls and arrange the carrots, potato, celery and zucchini in the centre, garnishing with the leaves of parsley, basil, celery and lamb’s lettuce that you kept aside previously as well as the baby beet leaves.
Serve with a drizzle of oil, a sprinkle of black pepper and a hunk of good granary bread.
Photos © Roberto Salomone