Best Before with Pietro Leemann

Lisa Casali’s new column debuts. Inviting everyone to cook using 3 ingredients close to their best-before-date

20-05-2016
In Lisa Casali’s illustration, the Mediterranean

In Lisa Casali’s illustration, the Mediterranean rice cake with asparagus and strawberries by Pietro Leemann, chef at restaurant Joia in Milan. The challenge, launched by the author on the latest Earth Day is that of having chefs and readers create a dish with 3 ingredients from their fridge close to their best before date, so as to enhance them and not waste them. Write to info@ecocucina.org

On "Earth Day" we launched a challenge: create a dish with 3 ingredients from your fridge, close to their best before date, so as to enhance them and not waste them. The first to accept the challenge was, it is no coincidence, a chef who has always moved against the tide and is committed in terms of environmental sustainability and enhancement of the vegetal world. It’s Pietro Leemann, chef at Joia in Milan, and his fridge is the first to debut on Best Before, Identità Golose’s new column.

A recipe, a dish, can be analysed from many points of view. In Best Before they are most of all a way to reflect on food waste and the value we give to every ingredient. Because even an egg alone is precious, just like every leaf, fish or cut of meat.

In order to speak about the value of food and the importance of not wasting it, we launched a challenge to the fine dining world. Open your fridge at home: what’s in there? Choose 3 ingredients close to their best before date and use them to make a dish for us. Something easy and simple that anyone could then replicate at home.

IN PIETRO’S FRIDGE. Illustration by Lisa Casali. Hashtag #BestBefore #Iononspreco

IN PIETRO’S FRIDGE. Illustration by Lisa Casali. Hashtag #BestBefore #Iononspreco

Leemann’s 3 best before ingredients:
boiled rice
asparagus
strawberries

How to transform them into tonight’s dinner?  «The idea is to make a roasted rice cake with Mediterranean flavours, with a sauce of strawberries to create contrast»

Mediterranean rice cake with asparagus and strawberries

These are the extra ingredients you need:
a few chopped leaves of dill and basil, fresh or dry
1 tablespoon of chopped capers
a few pistils of saffron
extra virgin olive oil
aged balsamic vinegar or balsamic glaze
salt

Pietro Leemann, natural fine dining at restaurant Joia for 27 years (photo from joia.it)

Pietro Leemann, natural fine dining at restaurant Joia for 27 years (photo from joia.it)

Method
Start from the asparagus: if they’re no longer fresh, they’re certainly a little woody. Best separate the tips from the stalks and prepare them differently. Peel the stalks, cut them into thin slices and dice them. Blanch the tips.

As for the strawberries, even in this case since they’re no longer fresh they are a little withered. Cut out the best parts and slice them. Dice the others and put them in a marinade with salt, oil, balsamic vinegar and lemon.

Season the left over boiled rice with a mix of chopped dill and basil, capers, saffron, diced asparagus and a pinch of salt. Bake it in the oven for some 10 minutes. Using a pastry cutter, shape the rice and then grill it in the oven for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, blend the marinated strawberries. Remove the pastry cutter, finish with the sliced strawberries, the asparagus tips and a few drops of strawberry sauce. If you have some strawberry sauce left, use it so season a fruit or vegetable salad.

What if I were to visit you? What would you cook so as not to waste those 3 ingredients that have been left for too long in the fridge? If you’re ready to taken on the challenge, email me at info@ecocucina.org. #BestBefore #Iononspreco


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Best Before

Lisa Casali asks chefs and readers to prepare a good recipe with 3 ingredients just before their expiration date