The Rialto Market in Venice, a feast of seasonal produce


As the late Rose Gray has revealed in the River Cafe, quality ingredients are at the basis of good food. Markets are a fabulous source of inspiration but seasons are the main prompter; ingredients taste better and have more nutrients. We go generally go by this rule: we  chose the ingredient and then decide which recipe rather than the other way round which could send you scouting for some elusive ingredient.


Last week I visited the Rialto Market in Venice. I was enraptured by the vast array of fruit, vegetable and fresh fish on display. Radicchio in all shapes and forms as well as artichokes brought to mind images of Risotto al Radicchio Tardivo or frittata al carciofi e ricotta. Radicchio tardivo has a short season and its sweetness lends itself to salads but it is also delicious simply grilled and dressed with a good virgin olive oil. However, Radicchio the red and white cabbage-like vegetable from Treviso has a bitter sweet taste and can be accommodated with fish, meat or rice.

In Veneto‘s market stalls you will often find large containers filled with artichoke hearts in water and lemon slices to prevent them from oxidising. This is a very convenient presentation which we should like to find on the London market stalls. Cooked with risotto or pasta, artichoke is unrivalled. But why not try it in a Torta Pasqualina, a traditional tart from Liguria. As its name indicates, Torta Pasqualina (Easter Tart) is traditionally served at Easter as an appetiser.
It is formed with a thin crusty pastry base, made with flour, olive oil and salt. The tart is then filled with chard or spinach and artichokes, ricotta cheese, Parmigiano and eggs. These are cooked whole inside cavities made for this purpose within the vegetable filling.

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