Shopping at Sigona’s
Submitted by Carole Bumpus
Wheeling into Sigona’s parking lot, Redwood City, I was on a mission of sorts. Our week-end cruise-out, which would take us sailing up the Bay toward Treasure Island, required provisions and I was determined to find some specialties—and quickly. My mind was set on lunch the following day with a cold pasta salad combined with roasted artichoke hearts, roasted peppers, Kalamata olives, cured salami, and chunks of cheese—all mixed up and ready to carry aboard our sailboat for a nice picnic while en route. Like any picnic, planning ahead is key, but not all recipes take mountains of time.
I raced into the produce aisles and began loading my basket with voluptuous, fresh red, yellow and orange peppers. Then, I grabbed up four medium-sized artichokes, along with two bulbs of fresh garlic and two Meyer’s lemons, before running into dear Odie. Odie Reyes, is Sigona’s Customer Relations Specialist and to me, she is the face of Sigona’s. Perhaps, this is because she is quick to encourage me to try new Sigona’s offerings, but mainly because she has yet to lead me astray. (Be sure to make a point of meeting her.) She handed me a tube, mind you, of cream cheese (great for a sail or any picnic) and a small jar of Sigona’s brand Sweet Roasted Red Pepper relish. “Just mix the two together and dollop it on our special flat bread or ‘Everything’ flatbread. You’ve got yourself an appetizer.”
Great, I thought. And, since I’m in the cheese aisle, I’ll scoop up some gruyere, aged goudas, and bries, before swinging back to the wine aisle. Next, I’ll make a side trip back up to the olive oil counter, purchase another quart of scrumptious oil Picholine/Australian (my favorite) and put together a container of Mediterranean olives and grab some pepperoncini. Then as I fly to the check out stand, I grab up two frozen bags of excellent Antica Pasteria Tortelloni. A masterpiece anti-pasta pasta dish coming right up!
Once I arrived at home, I had an hour and a half before I needed to have food prepared, my duffle packed and head back out the door. The ‘cruisers’ were waiting. First, I turned on the oven to 375 degrees. Then I pared the four artichokes down by removing all of the thick leaves, cutting off the points, and trimming the stem. Dipping them in and out of acidulated water (water with a squeezed lemon added to it to keep them from turning brown), I then quartered them, took out the chokes and returned them to the lemon water.
I combined 1/3 to ½ cup of Sigona’s [Fresh Press]extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup of squeezed Meyer’s lemon juice, 1 ½ teaspoons of minced garlic, 1+ teaspoons of fresh finely chopped thyme or Tuscan herb mix, 1 teaspoon of sea salt, and a large pinch of freshly ground pepper. Mix well, then add the artichoke hearts (which have been dried off) into a baking dish and braise for about one hour.
While the ‘chokes are braising, start a large pot of salted water for the Antica Pasteria Tortelloni (2-8.8 oz. bags). Cook according to directions, then drain and set in cold water to cool. If you have time, grill the three colored peppers on the outside grill. No, I didn’t have time either. So then, balance each one of the peppers on the three remaining gas burners and char them directly on the flame. Turn them constantly (turn on the vent fan so as not to have that annoying fire alarm startle you) and then place the three peppers into a glass bowl and cover with Saran wrap while they cool. Once they deflate, remove the blackened part of the peppers, rinse them gently, then remove the seeds and stem, then slice them into ¼ inch lengths.
When the artichokes have finished braising, cool them slightly, then add the peppers into the piquant garlicky mixture and pop them into a flat plastic container with a lid. Place the tortelloni in another plastic container (low flat is best on boats and also to stack for a picnic) and into a cooler or back into the refrigerator. Several hours before you serve, mix the tortelloni with the artichoke mixture. Chop up some olives, and if the sauce is not too salty, cube up some chunks of salami. Garnish with pepperoncini. This is a salad which keeps well and can be used for a hearty lunch as the full course. Serves 6.
Mediterranean Pasta Salad
- 2 – 8.8 oz. – Antica Pasteria Tortelloni – follow direction; cool.
- 3 – peppers: red, yellow and orange – roasted and sliced into ¼ inch slices
- 4 – large artichokes, pared down
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of freshly squeezed Meyer’s lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 1-1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, basil or Tuscan herb mix
- ½ teaspoon – freshly ground black pepper
- 1 Meyer’s lemon
- ½ cup sliced Kalamata olives
- ½ cup pepperoncini peppers
Once you’ve sailed to your destination of choice, dropped anchor or set up camp, open up the cream cheese, mix with the jar of roasted peppers, arrange with crackers and other cheeses and open the wine. Everyone is more than ready!
From your First Mate,