Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love
If you’re looking for a gift idea for a food-loving friend I have a suggestion for you, Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love.
Last April former super model turned author, Cristina Ferrare, was in Seattle promoting her latest book. I attended a gathering of food lovers hosted by Seattle Bon Vivant, Myra Kohn, to meet Cristina and sample tastes from the cookbook. There was no charge for the event and I received a complementary copy of the book for attending.
Cristina is one of those genuine, interesting and friendly people who you wish you could spend some time with and really get to know. Warm and welcoming, down-to-earth, easy-going. And this comes through even as she recounts stories of how she got to know Oprah when Oprah and Steadman, just dropped by one of her parties.
The food at the event was very good, although most of it was prepared by a team of food stylists, due to Cristina’s limited schedule while in town. So I was anxious to try some of the recipes on my own. Between the food at the event and my browsing through the cookbook I immediately felt at home with these recipes. I’d call them Italian-inspired, and while Cristina’s heritage definitely shines through, the recipes are not strictly Italian. And definitely not authentic Italian. They remind me of things my maternal grandmother would make as she evolved the traditional recipes of her youth to incorporate locally available ingredients and other techniques she’d learned while living here in the U. S.
A week after the event I had family in town and tried two of the recipes, Black Bean Salsa with Roasted Corn, and White Bean Puree. Both were delicious. I tried a few other things over the summer and really like the no-nonsense, graceful, ease of her cooking. The directions are not hard, they flow and the recipes are full of flavor with a combination of Mediterranean and California (where she lives) flair.
The recipes are interesting enough for a seasoned cook, yet easy enough for someone just learning their way around the kitchen.
I’ve included the recipe for the Black Bean Salsa. It’s delicious served with roasted chicken or as a condiment for tacos, but it’s also great served with just a bowl of tortilla chips. And perhaps a margarita!
Black Bean Salsa with Roasted Corn
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans , rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper , chopped small
- 1/4 cup red onion , chopped small
- 1 ripe mango , cut into bite-size pieces
- 2 Tbsp. cilantro , finely chopped
- 2 scallions , chopped
- 1 Tbsp. jalapeno , finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 2 limes , juiced
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 cup roasted corn or canned corn, drained
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and toss together well. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour or overnight.