In The Kitchen At ‘Ino
I grew up in a fairly sleepy, suburban Southern California town. Though it was lovely, it hardly leaps to mind as a go-to for worldly tastes. And yet, it was home to an Italian market that was simply enchanting in scene and scope. You’d open a seemingly ordinary wooden door to an epicurean education, a treasure hunt among primary colored imports and parceled rounds of fresh pizza dough. The beating heart of it all was found in the deli, a lively antidote to whatever sad sub situation you’d known in lunches past. The jocular emcees behind the counter guided you to your perfect order, the sharp, crumbly cheeses or ribbons of charcuterie only ever requiring the slightest smear of accompaniment. Though a visual feast of concepts and curiosities, there was a communal accessibility at its center.
Alessandro Frassica’s rabidly beloved ‘Ino has certified him as a master of things served between sliced bread. But we love him because he’s taken that congenial inclusion and translated it to his faithful throngs all too happy to wait in line or huddle on stools; he’s taken that delicious simplicity, and adapted it for a more elevated palate. There is an exuberant twinkle to both his persona and his recipes, an endearing reliance on ingredient quality and little more than your best direction-following. These are the kinds of recipes that make you swoon with delight, the enjoyment of the flavors somehow enhanced by the miracle of their no-sweat assembly. Ideal as a hearty lunch, party-pleasing appetizer, or as a complement to vibrant passato, these are panini to bring home again and again.
Lov’It | Lemon-Basil Burrata & Zucchini Panino
COURTESY OF CHEF ALESSANDRO FRASSICA
“I adore stracciatella; I’ve found that it is a very satisfactory and tasteful ingredient. It complements the zucchini perfectly, and mint and basil add a fresh and aromatic touch. The zest completes the harmony and of this simple but special panino – I ‘Lov’It!'”
- Several mint leaves, chopped
- Several basil leaves, chopped
- Zest of one lemon
- 2 ounces stracciatella di bufala (or burrata)
- 1 zucchini, grilled and marinated.
- 2 slices high quality whole grain seeded bread
Cut a zucchini lengthwise in long slices. Marinate in olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper and then grill. Lightly grill the bread.
On one slice of the bread, layer the ingredients in the following order: zucchini, lemon zest, stracciatella, and the aromatic herbs. Cover with the second slice and enjoy!
GialloRosso | Red Pepper Jam & Pecorino Panino
COURTESY OF CHEF ALESSANDRO FRASSICA
“The colors and the look of this sandwich create a great impact. I use a pecorino cheese produced with San Giminiano’s saffron stigmas that have been macerated in milk from the countryside around Siena: a special treat! This is an unusal combination of tastes: a balanced sweetness at the very beginning and a pleasant, spicy end.”
- 2 ounces saffron pecorino, sliced (regular pecorino works just fine too!)
- 2 ounces sautéed spinach
- 1 spoonful red pepper jam (recipe below)
- 2 slices fresh, rustic ciabatta bread (or a ciabatta roll sliced in half)
For The Spicy Red Pepper Jam:
- 4 cups chopped red bell peppers
- 1 cup chopped fresh chili peppers (with the seeds)
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup white wine vinegar
Wash and chop the red peppers, removing the white insides, but do not peel. Cut the chiles, using gloves and be careful not to bring your hands to the eyes after touching the seeds of peppers.
Put both peppers in a thick-bottomed pan with white wine vinegar and nothing else. Bring to medium heat and stir gently until peppers begin to soften and become fragrant.
Once peppers are cooked through (about 5-7 minutes), remove from heat. Allow to cool before adding cooked peppers to a blender or food processor. Blend until peppers form a thick sauce-like consistency. Pour the mixture back into the pan and bring to medium heat. Add sugar (no salt) and bring to a boil to thicken. Turn heat to low and stir the jam until it is thick, considering that the jam with thicken further as it cools.
For the sandwich, sauté spinach in a pan until it is just a little bit crispy.
Spread the sliced pecorino on one of the halves of bread. Add a layer of the red pepper jam and a layer of the spinach to the other half.
Lightly grill the panino in a panini press, grill pan or toaster oven.