When chef Jason Stratton opened his new bar and small-plates restaurant, Artusi, in Seattle, he turned to the roots of Italian cuisine for inspiration. He tracked down a scholarly copy of the Apicius, a tome reported to be one of the oldest cookbooks in existence. The "salsa" he now serves at Artusi was merely a line of ingredients that Stratton adapted into a recipe, combining old and new. Colatura (Italian anchovy essence) and pine nuts, both commonplace in the era of the Apicius, blend seamlessly with thinly sliced mushrooms and eggs. Stratton recommends pairing the dish with another Italian classic, the sparkling red wine Lambrusco.
Shaved White Mushroom and Egg Salad with Salsa "Apicius"
Recipe adapted from Jason Stratton, Artusi, Seattle, WA
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Cook Time: 20 minutes, plus overnight soaking
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup clover honey
3 tablespoons high-quality red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce (preferably colatura but a Vietnamese fish sauce will also work well)
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup packed lovage leaves or mint leaves, coarsely chopped
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
4 large eggs
20 button mushrooms, thinly sliced
1. Make the salsa Apicius: Place the pine nuts in a medium bowl, cover with cold water and let sit overnight. Alternately, you can boil a cup of water and pour it over the pine nuts. Let stand for an hour at room temperature before proceeding. Drain the pine nuts before using.
2. Put the honey in a medium saucepan and set over medium heat. Cook until the honey begins to caramelize, darken and just begins to smoke, about 3 to 5 minutes. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and add the vinegar. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a food processor, pulse the soaked and drained pine nuts until they are the consistency of cornmeal. Add the honey-vinegar mixture, fish sauce, pepper and lovage (or mint, if using). Turn on the motor and drizzle the ¼ cup of olive oil into the sauce. Set aside.
4. Put the eggs in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Place over medium heat and bring just to a boil. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and set aside for 10 minutes. Prepare an ice bath. Remove the eggs and plunge into the ice bath. Set aside and allow the eggs to cool completely.
5. Peel the cooled eggs and slice thinly lengthwise. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs and mushrooms. Add a few spoonfuls of the salsa to the mixing bowl and toss the salad to coat evenly. Add more salsa if desired, drizzle with olive oil and serve.