The antipasti section is a fitting introduction to my cooking in its current form. Here are some examples of both classic Italian dishes, as well as Italian flavors used with ingredients more commonly used in California.
For example, sweet potatoes are not terribly popular in Italy; however, they are available in abundance at farmers' markets in California and can range from nutty and starchy to sweet and silky. The particular variety featured is dense, smooth and reminiscent of chestnuts in flavor profile, just much sweeter. I have a penchant for pairing sweet and savory and this is one such combination. I recall one of the opening dishes at Forage was a chorizo spooned over roasted garnet yams and dandelion greens; I always thought it was brilliant and found it very comforting, as my mother frequently cooked chorizo and paired it with potatoes or beans. Similar in spirit, this roasted sweet potato sings with the smoky-spiciness of homemade sausage that is flavored with fresno chilies, chile de arbol, and smoked paprika. I used green tomatoes primarily because vine ripened tomatoes and these tubers don't share a season, but also because acidity is so important for balance.
Prosciutto and Burrata need no introduction; this is not so much a dish but rather an opportunity to celebrate beautiful products. There are great prosciutti throughout Italy, it just happens to be that San Daniele and Di Parma are more commonly imported here in the states. Right on the outskirts of Los Angeles, there are two producers of fresh Italian cheeses; here, I featured di Stefano's dreamily creamy burrata (hyperlink).