Three Classic Mediterranean Recipes to Try at Home
The stunning Mediterranean islands are dreamy vacation spots that also boast some of Europe’s most intriguing wine regions. Mallorca, Corsica and Sardinia (under the governance of Spain, France and Italy, respectively) are home to grape varieties rarely seen elsewhere like Gorgollassa, Sciaccarello and Nuragus. They also offer cuisines that vary from those on the mainland. Here, discover some dishes to try while you book your next trip.
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Courtesy Stefano Baldantoni, chef, D.O.C. Wine Bar, Brooklyn, NY
The No. 1 red wine grape in Sardinia is Cannonau, the local name for Grenache. Here, it’s rich and ripe, thanks to its unusually high levels of healthful polyphenols, which many credit with Sardinians’ exceptional longevity. Vermentino is the white-wine star here. Look for Vermentino di Gallura, Sardinia’s only Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), Italy’s highest wine designation for appellation quality. Other less-known grapes are Torbato, Nuragus, Cagnulari, and Bovale.
Names to look for: Cantina Argiolas, Cantina Dorgali, Mora&Memo, Cantina Santa Maria La Palma, Pala Sella & Mosca
Malloreddus alla Campidanese
Italian expats and curious New Yorkers alike converge at D.O.C. Wine Bar for its authentic Sardinian cuisine and broad selection of Italian wines. Made with malloreddus, a sort of semolina gnocchi, this dish is ever-present throughout the island. It’s one of the few Sardinian pastas that doesn’t come covered in bottarga, or dried roe.
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, chopped
- 8 ounces Italian pork sausage, casing removed
- ¼ cup Vermentino or other dry white wine
- 2 cups canned or fresh tomato purée
- 1 pound fresh or dried malloreddus (or substitute cavatelli)
- Salt, to taste
- 3 ounces Pecorino Sardo cheese, grated
Warm oil in deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6–8 minutes, or until golden brown. Add sausage and cook, breaking it up into crumbles, until brown and crisp at edges. Add wine, then let evaporate.
Reduce heat to low. Add tomato purée and cook for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Set aside 1 cup of the starchy cooking water. Drain pasta and add pasta to pan with sauce. Stir well, until pasta is well coated. Add reserved pasta water as needed if sauce seems too thick. Add salt, to taste.
Transfer to serving plates, and top with Pecorino. Serves 4–6.
Cantina Dorgali 2014 Cannonau di Sardegna. “Cannonau di Sardegna has a lively acidity that complements the malloreddus very well,” says Claudio Coronas, co-owner of D.O.C. Wine Bar. “It’s light in color, but full-flavored, with raspberry and blackberry fruit, hearty with a touch of spice.”
Adapted from Pascal Cayeux, chef, La Table de Cala Rossa at Grand Hôtel Cala Rossa, Lecci, Corsica
Soft Sciaccarello and potent Nielluccio, a close relative, if not clone, of Sangiovese, form the core of Corsican red wines. Nielluccio is at its best in the Patrimonio Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), whose red wines must be at least 90% Nielluccio. Also, don’t miss the rosés from Patrimonio. As in neighboring Sardinia, Vermentino—or Vermentinu, as it’s spelled here—is the leading white wine grape.
Names to look for: Abbatucci, Clos Venturi, Domaine Arena, Yves Leccia
Citrus is one of Corsica’s main crops, and it’s a natural with the island’s abundant shellfish. At the Michelin-starred La Table de Cala Rossa, Chef Pascal Cayeux garnishes this dish with grated dried langoustine stock and a condiment made of Corsican citron, pictured here.
- 1 cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 pounds langoustines (or 2 pounds head-on shrimp)
In small saucepan, combine juice, honey, garlic, salt and olive oil. Bring to boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-high.
Cook until reduced to about ⅓ cup and has consistency of thin syrup, about 15–20 minutes.
Heat broiler. Split langoustines lengthwise, and remove dark intestinal tract. Place flesh-side up on sheet pan. Brush with olive oil, and season with salt. Place under broiler just until no longer translucent, about 3 minutes. Serve hot, drizzled with grapefruit syrup. Serves 4.
Domaine Antoine-Marie Arena 2017 Hauts de Carco Blanc (Patrimonio). Patrick Fioramonti, wine director and sommelier at La Table, favors this for its floral, citrus and saline notes that highlight both the grapefruit and langoustine.
Courtesy Luis Roger, chef, BCN Taste & Tradition, Houston
Few wines from Mallorca are available in the U.S., which is all the more reason to visit. The Moll grape (a.ka.. Premsal Blanc) makes refreshing, aromatic whites and is by far the most common white variety. It’s often blended with Moscatel, Chardonnay, Macabeo and Parellada. The reds, mostly Manto Negro and Callet, can be intriguing and delicious, often with savory saline notes. Serious wine hunters should keep an eye out for obscure Mallorcan grapes like Gorgollassa, Fogoneu, Giró Blanc and Giró Ros.
Names to look for: Ànima Negra, Binigrau, Can Xanet, Bodegas José L. Ferrer
Caldereta de Langosta
Houston’s BCN Taste & Tradition, named for Barcelona’s airport code, is one of the best spots in the U.S. for the cuisine of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands. The owners have also just opened MAD, which highlights the cooking of modern Madrid. This is an elegant version of caldereta, the Balearics’ signature seafood stew.
- 4 live lobsters, up to 1½ pounds each
- 12 cups lobster stock (ingredients and directions below)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, minced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1½ cups bomba or Calasparra rice
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 2 tablespoons brandy
- ¼ cup canned tomato purée
Add lobsters headfirst into large pot of boiling salted water. Cover and cook for 12 minutes, then transfer to plate. When cool enough to handle, remove tails and claws. Set aside. Use remaining lobster for stock.
Bring 8 cups stock to boil. Cook until reduced by three quarters. If necessary, lower heat to avoid boiling over. Keep warm over low heat.
Meanwhile, warm oil in deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and brandy, and cook until absorbed. Add tomato purée and 4 cups stock. Cook, uncovered, until rice becomes tender and liquid absorbs, about 20 minutes. Add salt, to taste.
Remove meat from claws, and crack lobster tails. When ready to serve, sear lobster quickly in hot pan just until heated through (3 minutes for tails, 1 minute for claws). Divide rice, lobster and sauce among plates. Serves 4.
- Heads and shells from 4 lobsters, chopped
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 5 plum tomatoes, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 quarts store-bought fish stock
In large pot, warm oil over medium heat. Add lobster, and cook for 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, carrot, onion, fish stock and 2 cups water. Bring to boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. While cooking, crush lobster and vegetables with potato masher or immersion blender. Strain. Stock may be frozen for up to 6 months. Yields 6 cups.
Avancia 2017 Old Vines Godello (Valdeorras). “I love this wine with shellfish,” says Paco Calza, BCN manager and wine director, of this Galician Godello. “It’s robust on the palate, with a perfect balance of fruit and minerals, and aromas of tropical citrus and pears.”
For a Mallorcan pairing, look for Ànima Negra 2018 Quíbia Falanis White (Vi de la Terra Mallorca), a Premsal Blanc-based white with tropical-fruit flavors balanced by notes of citrus and seashells.
- 1Sardinian Pasta with Sausage & Tomato
- 2Langoustines with Grapefruit Syrup
- 3Lobster Stew Recipe