Black kale, seductive lardo, and fragrant black summer truffle slices served on crostini scented with a subtle olive oil, garlic, basil and anchovy paste. These appetizers are as much about flavor as they are about delicious aromas.
Recalling a questionable sugar fueled decision I recently made, I needed a little cheering up. It’s so easy to overspend on photography equipment with Amazon Prime.
One or two clicks and you’ve gone down the rabbit hole.
You know how it goes.
So, the plan to cheer myself up ended up being that we would head over to our local Italian butcher and pick up my fav porky meat, thinly sliced lardo.
While we’re at it, what the heck, let’s pick up a little Tuscan kale, a black truffle and have ourselves an impromptu appetizer party.
Lock the doors. Lower the blinds. Let’s have some crostini.
Lardo, Duchess of Pork
Lardo is an Italian pork lover’s dream; a melt in your mouth, creamy, succulent, aged pork fat revelation. Sliced very thin, lardo becomes a nearly transparent salumi (or charcuterie for our Francophile friends) which tastes delicious on grilled crostini with lacinato kale, as part of an antipasti platter, or in a pasta dish served with anchovy and tomatoes.
Scented with rosemary, garlic and a number of other spices, the original Lardo di Colannato is made by carefully aging pork fat in marble tubs during late fall and winter months. There are many producers of lardo in the US, with others in Italy and Spain so this gives you several choices for buying lardo online.
Here in New York, prices range greatly between $30 and $60 per pound. Other than a large catering event I can’t imagine wanting to purchase more than 1/4 pound of lardo at one time. Most of the time we have leftovers that we use for another meal and then pick at it during the week.
Black Summer Truffles
Black summer truffles are a subtly fragrant dark colored truffle available from May to September. Not as intense as the black winter truffle, summer truffles are perfect on their own accord.
Shave or grate them onto warm sauteed kale atop grilled crostini. The perfume released is fantastic and when you go in for your first bite you’ll get a fragrant combination of the spices in the lardo and the truffles.
If you haven’t yet decided that you love truffles, as we predict that you will, the summer varietal of black truffles are an excellent and affordable place to start. We’re able to purchase this type of truffle for just about an ounce in weight for less that $25.
You don’t need much, just a shaving or two of black truffle for each crostino.
Also, pictured below is a truffle slicer, which probably looks familiar. Slicers are handheld tools outfitted with a very sharp adjustable blade. This allows you to shave very thin slices from truffles which are oftentimes the size of a walnut. Using a knife, you couldn’t as easily get quickly shaved slices like this handy little tool can give you.
If you have any leftover, truffles shaved or grated with a microplane over a hot risotto or scrambled eggs are insanely delicious.
Store your leftover truffle in a covered container filled with rice and use the next morning shaved on top of scrambled eggs – which is exactly what we’re having for breakfast this morning as I write this. As the truffle shavings hit the warm eggs their truffley fragrance is released.
Lardo and truffles of any type and seasonal variety and origin can be found online. In New York we have quite a few high-quality Italian butcher shops which have stood the test of time, and a handful of newer shops that are likewise very good.
Visiting our favorite butcher, having a brief chat about their recommendation that day, watching them carefully slice the lardo onto butcher paper and weigh it on the scale, is almost the best part of putting something like these crostini together.