Inspired by the 16th century Italian painter Jacopo Carucci (Jacopo da Pontormo) Cesare Casella, chef and dean of Italian Studies at the International Culinary Center combines the bright acid of vinegar and wine, salty pancetta, cold crisp lettuce greens and soft scrambled eggs to create a substantial wintertime salad. With typical Italian sprezzatura , Carucci employs a studied carelessness of ingredients to create something of quality and style. A culinary spontaneity that belies thought and preparation based on a story about what Pontormo saw when he looked at his surroundings from his room. According to Casella, Pontormo saw a chicken coop, a garden with lots of lettuces growing and pancetta hanging from the ceiling. It was these visuals that inspired Casella to create Insalata Pontormo.
The artist himself expressed a stylistic shift from the calm perspectival regularity that characterized the art of the Florentine Renaissance to an “ambiguous perspective where figures seem to float in an uncertain environment”.
Much like this recipe for Insalata Pontormo
- 1 T red wine vinegar
- 1T balsamic vinegar
- 1 T red wine
- 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 1/2 ounces Italian pancetta, sliced 1/2-inch thick and cut into 1/4-inch-by- 1/2-inch strips
- 1 T dried herbs such as rosemary, tarragon, thyme, basil, savory, oregano
- 6 large eggs
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 4 cups washed, mixed salad greens and arugula, torn into bite-size pieces
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegars and the wine. Whisk in the salt and pepper, and 2 T of olive oil. Place the remaining olive oil and pancetta in a large frying pan and cook over medium heat until the pancetta is transparent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the herbs stirring frequently to keep the herbs from scorching and to cook the pancetta evenly. Beat the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper to taste and pour them into the pan. Cook, stirring, until they form large, soft curds. Take off the heat and continue stirring.
Place the greens in a large shallow bowl and dress with just enough of the dressing to coat the leaves very lightly. Add the egg mixture and toss until well distributed. Serve immediately.