This is the recipe I wrote for the Sunday meal at Rancho La Puerta during my week as visiting chef. Originally, I’d planned on serving the polenta with slender spears of broccolini, but we had a giant box of snow peas and beautiful bok choy fresh from the garden, so Chef Eddy and I changed it up a bit. I love searing squares of this polenta in some hot olive oil—or charring it on the grill as I do here—and serving it with just about anything: An egg and some greens in the morning, a mushroom ragu or tomato sauce at night. It’s super versatile and a great thing to have in the fridge for easy meals throughout the week.
This grilled asparagus recipe comes from Savigno, Italy, a hamlet it the hills south of Bologna, by way of my friend Alberto Bettini. Along with being the third generation to run his family’s incredible restaurant and inn, Da Amerigo, Alberto is passionate about preserving traditional foods and recipes. He shared this one with me in much the same manner as it has probably been passed on for centuries (Alberto calls it an ancient recipe): by simply describing it. Like many Italian recipes that have endured the ages, this one is simple in technique and ingredients, yet surprisingly complex in flavor. Serve this asparagus as an appetizer (it’s great as part of an antipasto platter), tossed with pasta, or simply snacking on out of hand.
Did you know that fish, like other foods has a season? Pacific halibut season is spring and fall, though you can find high-quality frozen fish at other times of year. Here, we pair grilled halibut with green peas in a kelly-green coulis, which definitely falls into the “can’t get better than fresh-from-the-garden” category. This dish is a good excuse to break in the grill for the season.