On the menu: Crostini al Carciofi e Pomodori Secchi

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Crostini with baby Artichokes and sun-dried Tomatoes

Crostini are a great way to get creative.  Just an ingredient or two on toasted or grilled bread.  How Italian is that?

In this dish, we spread sliced baby artichokes on crostini and top that with chopped sun-dried tomatoes for the perfect refreshment on a spring evening.

Both ingredients are grown by Francesco Vastola, whose land is located in Campania’s Alta Valle del Sele area near the Cilento National Park and the archaeological ruins at Paestum.  Francesco grows vegetables of the highest quality.  Combining innovation and tradition, he takes his just-picked vegetables and turns them into sott’olio using the excellent extra virgin olive oil from Cilento.

The baby artichokes we use are carciofi di Paestum, which are prized throughout Italy. They are famous for their small round heads, spineless stems, and beautiful purple color.  Picked only between February and May, they are unusually tender, but still firm to the bite.

Artichokes are notoriously difficult to preserve.  Their flavor is subtle.  If an artichoke of little flavor is combined with poor quality olive oil, the results are disappointing.

Valle del Sele’s artichokes were first mentioned in statistics published in 1811, when the region was known as the Kingdom of Naples.  Eventually, the artichoke of Castellammare became known as carciofo tondo di Paestum, or “round artichoke of Paestum.”

Francesco uses perfectly ripe, sun-drenched tomatoes for his pomodori secchi [sun-dried tomatoes].  He sprinkles them with salt and dries them in the fields.  Wine vinegar, oregano, capers, and chili peppers add balance and an extra punch of flavor.

When Francesco’s pomodori secchi are combined with his carciofi di Paestum, a perfect flavor balance emerges, showing that sometimes one plus one equals three.

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