Giovanni Pierpaoli is a young and enterprising chef of the Venetian scene who, after collecting some extraordinary work experiences with the masters of the island’s cuisine, has decided to share with us everything he learned. And he will be more than happy to share it with you too! See you in the kitchen!
Giovanni grew up in a family from Romagna, and this is clearly the reason why he could never stay away from the kitchen. He started cooking at a professional level at the age of 17 and he has never stopped since. All the raw materials that he chooses for his dishes are almost always environment-friendly, as he respects seasonality and values proximity.
And now we leave it to Giovanni!
Vegetables in saor with crunchy polenta
One of the first dishes that I first learned to appreciate after moving to Venice is the saor; an extremely ancient conservation technique where sourness, sweetness, and sapidity balance each other out and create an optimal starting point for a lot of recipes.
- 600 gr seasonal vegetables (in our case, pumpkin and chicory)
- 2 laurel leaves, 2 rosemary branches, a bunch of thyme, 4 garlic cloves
- Extra virgin oil and salt, at your discretion
- 40 gr of pine nuts
- 70 gr of raisins
- 2/3 white onions (red onions are okay too)
- Extra virgin oil and vinegar, at your discretion
- 2l water
- 500gr Fioretto corn flour
- Coarse salt and olive oil, at your discretion
- Seed oil, at your discretion
Let’s start with the veggies! Turn on the oven to preheat at 180° and cut the pumpkin into 3cm cubes. Mix the pumpkin with oil, smashed garlic (smashing the garlic enhances its flavour) and the finely cut rosemary and thyme.
Put everything in a casserole dish and, after adding a few laurel leaves, put a lid on it and place the casserole dish in the oven. After 15 minutes check the pumpkin, remove the lid before closing the oven back and raise the temperature at 220° to brown it (but do not overcook it!). Meanwhile clear your chicory by removing the most external leaves, in order to be left with the internal bulbs only. After rinsing them, cut them into 2 or 4 pieces according to their length. Brown the chicory in the pan with some oil and 2 garlic cloves, simmer with white wine and add some water. After 10/15 minutes the chicory should be tender and ready: leave it to cool down along with the pumpkin.
Let the finely chopped onion brown in the pan, add some salt and then simmer with vinegar and a drop of white wine, Let the vinegar and wine evaporate, add the raisins and pine nuts and let the onions stew on low heat by adding some water, if necessary, until they are soft.
Start creating a sequence of layers of pumpkin, chicory, and warm onions on a tray, until the ingredients are finished. Cover the tray and let it rest in the fridge for a whole night before serving it.
Now let’s get to the polenta – but remember to take out of the fridge the saor vegetables from the day before. Let the water and oil boil in a saucepan and pour in the corn flour while rapidly mixing everything with a whip. Keep mixing continuously with a wooden spoon while everything is cooking on low heat for 30 to 40 minutes, until the polenta has reached a rather solid consistency.
Grease a rectangular pan and pour the polenta on it. Even the surface out to obtain a 1cm width and cover with parchment paper. Let it cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours. When the polenta feels compact and dry, turn it on a cutting board and chop it into 5cm sticks by using a smooth edged knife. Fry the sticks after warming an abudant amount of seed oil up to 180°.
Once the polenta sticks are ready, put some saor vegetables on them and here you go: a homemade cicchetto veneziano!
You can choose different vegetables, the most important thing is to keep them al dente and not overcook them.
Make it easy: the saor is also amazing served on bread. Take a soft focaccia, roast it, and enjoy!
You can meet Giovanni directly in the kitchen, where he will guide you through recipes and combinations of seasonal ingredients. We’re waiting for you in Venice!