Best Recipes for a Taste of Positano
Through her totally Pinterest-worthy website Salt & Wind, not only does Aida Mollenkamp take you on glamorous adventures, she also shows you how to bring the world’s flavors home to your kitchen. And while creating this week’s guide to two perfect days in Positano, the Food Expert and Author also divulged her favorite recipes for a delicious Amalfi-inspired dinner. It’s high summer and even if you’re not in Italy, hopefully you’ve got some heirloom tomatoes standing by. If not, you can also cool down and pep-up with Aida’s take on an icy Caffe Shakerato, or whip up a batch of her Limoncello Popsicles for a day at the pool.
“One of our favorite drinks at aperitivo is the Spritz. It’s a cocktail served throughout the Northeast part of Italy, with a variation in almost every town from Verona to Venice. It’s a low-octane cocktail (aka low alcohol) so it makes happy hour enjoyable without overdoing it.”
2 ounces Aperol
1 medium orange sliced for garnish
“There are a few things you should know about the Italian drink, Caffe Shakerato: first, it’s pronounced ‘shake’ with a ‘-rate’ then an ‘o’ at the end. (You know, it’s one of those bastardizations of an English word that makes for an awesome word in a foreign language.) Oh, and it’s a drink that sort of shows up out of nowhere once the weather gets warm. You’ll be in a cafe and all of a sudden cold coffee starts showing up in Martini (sometimes wine or champagne) glasses as if they hibernate at anything less than 80°F.”
“We wait all year for it: that moment when the tomatoes are so amazing, we wouldn’t think about eating anything else. And that’s when we can’t stop, won’t stop with classic tomato dishes like this Caprese Salad.”
2 handfuls datterini or sweet 100s tomatoes or cherry tomatoes halved
8 ounces bocconcini mozzarella cheese
assorted olives for garnish
extra-virgin olive oil
Maldon sea salt or other flaky sea salt, for garnish
Pasta Alla Checca
“There is nothing that transports me to Italy faster than a really well done pasta alla checca. At its most simple, it’s just marinated tomatoes tossed with fresh pasta but so often it’s flavorless. The key is only making it when you have ah-mazing tomtatoes, letting the tomatoes really, really marinate, and taking it over the top with some super fresh cheese, like a really awesome burrata cheese.”
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more for seasoning
1 ½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
1 pound pasta such as rigatoni, campanelle, conchiglie, or orrecchiette
2 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley leaves finely chopped
12 ounces fresh burrata cheese cut into 4 to 6 pieces
When the tomatoes are ready, tear the basil leaves into bite-sized pieces and stir into the tomato mixture. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil and cook according to the package directions.
Toss the pasta with the reserved pasta cooking water (as needed) and parsley and stir to mix. Add the tomato mixture, and stir to combine. (If using mozzarella, stir it in here.) Taste and season with salt and additional pepper flakes, as desired.
Divide the pasta into individual bowls, top each with some of the burrata cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a sprinkling of salt, and serve.
“Since the weather lately has been 95°F+, I’ve sought refreshment of any and every kind and, at night, I’ve been longing for a limoncello popsicle that’d allow me to cool down while still having an after-dinner treat. So, I decided to combine two cultures of summer refreshment and marry the age-old American ice cream truck creamsicle with a good dose of Limoncello for these very adult Limoncello Creamsicle Popsicles.”
½ cup unrefined cane sugar
Pinch of sea salt
¼ cup good-quality Limoncello
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice from about 2 lemons
Pear Ricotta Tart
“When I came across this Amalfi Pear Ricotta Hazelnut Cake that Emiko Davies shared, I had to try it. It’s inspired by a recipe of Sal De Riso—a celebrity pastry chef from the region and my family now requests it for special occasions. I’ve found it’s super adaptable—I like it frozen rather than refrigerated and I switch the fruit (from pears to berries) based on the season.”
3 large eggs room temperature
7 ounces whole hazelnuts blended and sifted (or use hazelnut or almond meal)
½ cup all-purpose flour
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter melted and cooled, plus more room temperature butter for lining the cake pan
drizzle extra-virgin olive oil
2 small ripe Forelle or Seckel pears cored and small dice
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Splash pear Williams brandy or Spiced Pear Brandy or Kirsch (optional)
½ teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound whole milk ricotta cheese
½ cup chilled heavy cream
powdered sugar for garnish
Pour the mixture the prepared cake pan and bake until browned and springy on top, about 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
Hazelnut sponge can be made 2 days in advance. Store at room temperature, unsliced and wrapped in plastic.
For the filling: Meanwhile, drizzle a few spoonfuls of olive oil in a small frying pan and warm over medium heat. Add the diced pear, 1/3 cup of the sugar, vanilla, lemon juice, and liqueur, if using. Stir occasionally until the pears begin to cook and release liquid and soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cornstarch and continue cooking for another 2 minutes.
Whip the ricotta and remaining 1 cup of the granulated sugar together until very smooth and creamy. Fold in the whipped cream and then the cooled pears, along with some of their syrup. Save a couple of tablespoons of syrup to drizzle on the top and bottom layers of cake.
To assemble: Line the same cake pan you used to bake the cake with parchment paper (or use a 7-inch springform pan if you have it). Slice the hazelnut sponge horizontally so you have two discs. (Be gentle: It is a bit of crumbly cake). Place the bottom half in the cake pan, cut side up. Drizzle 1 to 2 tablespoons of pear syrup evenly over the cake then spoon over the ricotta mixture and smooth over with a spatula. Drizzle the rest of the reserved pear syrup over the cut side of the top layer of sponge and carefully place it on top of the ricotta filling, cut side down.
You can chill the cake for several hours in the fridge but I prefer to freeze it so that it’s almost like an ice cream cake. Remove the cake from the pan, dust with powdered sugar, then cut carefully into slices with a sharp knife and serve