EyeSwoon

the bite: Kristina Gill’s Roman Salad

By Natalie Goel

As a multi-hyphenate herself, Athena has long held the belief you don’t have to limit yourself to just one discipline in your career. Need even more proof you can tackle multiple pursuits and thrive? Look no further than multitalented photographer-slash-food-editor Kristina Gill. Kristina has snapped images for National Geographic Traveler, Bon Appétit and more and is the food and drinks editor at Design Sponge. Beyond this, the Nashville native recently channeled her creative chops into yet another exciting project — photographing and co-authoring the cookbook Tasting Rome, an ode to her adopted home in Italy. So, we caught up with Kristina to get a little taste, in the form of a typically-Roman spring salad from Tasting Rome. Check out the recipe below, along with a glimpse into everything from her go-to ingredients to kitchen soundtrack.

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NAME: Kristina Gill

PROFESSION: Food Assistance Adviser / Freelance Photographer & Food Editor

PHILOSOPHY ON FOOD? Everything in moderation

A LITTLE ABOUT THE RECIPE YOU’RE SHARING WITH US? This recipe is a typical one on Roman restaurant menus in the spring when all the ingredients are at their peak. People don’t usually go through the effort of double shelling the fava beans, which makes them sweeter. However in my opinion, that is the key to making a most fabulous Vignarola. It also keeps the green color of the dish vibrant, which is pleasing to the eye.

COOKING MAKES ME FEEL…Alive and capable — capable of taking care of myself and others.

BRIEFLY, HOW YOU CAME TO DO WHAT YOU DO: Like most of life, I was in the right place at the right time with the entrepreneurial spirit to tackle something I knew nothing about but was enthusiastic to learn!

 

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ESSENTIAL KITCHEN TOOL? That’s tough. I think the pressure cooker is undervalued, as is the food processor…but without a good multi-purpose pot or pan, you can’t go far!

THREE INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT? Quality salt flakes, sriracha, and some form of onion

QUIRKY FOOD HABITS? I’m a systematic eater — I finish all of one item on my plate before moving to the next. Another quirky habit I have is in winter, when I eat mandarins, I peel the ones I have chosen to eat and I take a sample slice from each. I then eat the least flavorful one first, and finish with the best so I’m not disappointed by a tasteless ending!

BIGGEST SINGLE INFLUENCE ON YOUR COOKING STYLE? Nigel Slater or Nigella Lawson probably! Simple, both in technique and ingredients, is best.

SOUNDTRACK IN YOUR KITCHEN? Usually podcasts! BBC World Service documentaries are top of the list.

 

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MIDNIGHT SNACK? I sleep like a log. If not, I’d probably go for the cookie jar.

BEST SOURCE FOR FOOD AND RECIPE INSPIRATION? For me, travel is usually the best source of inspiration and best way to encounter new ingredients, new cooking techniques, or just something different than what is in my usual daily environment.

I CAN NEVER RESIST… French fries!

THE RECIPE OR MEAL YOU ARE KNOWN FOR? Ragù

MOST SWOON-WORTHY RESTAURANT? Bolan in Bangkok. I’m still dreaming about the food I ate there last summer.

THEY SAY YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT — WHAT ARE YOU? Probably oatmeal!

TRIED-AND-TRUE ENTERTAINING TIP? Keep it simple! Prepare few dishes that you know how to make really well.

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Vignarola; Artichoke, Peas, Fava, and Lettuce Stew

Kristina Gill

  • Ingredients

    • Vignarola; Artichoke, Peas, Fava, and Lettuce Stew

      Serves 4 to 6

      • 1½ cups shelled fava beans (from about 2 pounds in pods)
      • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
      • 3½ ounces Guanciale  or pancetta, diced
      • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
      • 4 tender young globe artichokes, cleaned and quartered
      • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
      • 6 sprigs fresh mint
      • ½ cup dry white wine
      • Water or Vegetable Broth (recipe follows)
      • 1½ cups fresh or frozen shelled peas (from about 2 pounds in pods)
      • 4 spring onions or scallions (white parts only), thinly sliced
      • 1 small head romaine lettuce, shredded crosswise into ½-inch strips (4 cups)
      • 1½ tablespoons lemon juice (from ½ lemon; optional)

      Brodo Vegetale; Vegetable Broth

      makes 1 quart

      • 2 cups empty pea pods
      • 4 artichoke stems
      • 4 spring onions or scallions (green parts only)
  • The Prep

    • Vignarola; Artichoke, Peas, Fava, and Lettuce Stew

      1. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Blanch the fava beans in the boiling water for 1 minute, in batches, if necessary, to avoid overcrowding. Drain and immediately plunge them into the ice water bath. Remove and discard the bitter skins by squeezing each fava bean gently between your fingers. Small fava beans can be left whole. Set aside.
      2. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over low heat. When the oil begins to shimmer, add the guanciale. Cook until the fat turns translucent, then add the garlic. Cook until just fragrant, then immediately drain the artichokes and add them to the pan along with a generous pinch of salt, pepper, and half the mint, stirring to coat.
      3. Increase the heat to high and add the wine. Simmer until the alcohol aroma dissipates, about a minute, then add enough water or broth to cover the artichokes halfway. Cook until the artichokes begin to soften, 10 to 12 minutes, then add the peas, fava beans, and spring onions. Season again with salt and pepper. Continue to cook until the peas are soft, about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, adding more vegetable broth or water as needed to keep the vegetables in a bit of simmering liquid.
      4. Add the lettuce, stir to combine, and cook for 5 minutes more, or until all the components are fully cooked and tender. Remove the pot from the heat, season the stew with lemon juice, if desired, and garnish with the remaining mint. Serve warm or room temperature, or even the following day.

      Brodo Vegetale; Vegetable Broth

      1. Set aside the pea pods, artichoke stems, and the green stalks from the spring onions from the Vignarola.
      2. Place in a medium pot and add cold water to cover.
      3. Bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes, then drain. No need to season with salt or pepper.

      Reprinted from Tasting Rome: Fresh Flavors and Forgotten Recipes from an Ancient City. Copyright © 2016 by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill. Photographs copyright © 2016 by Kristina Gill. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers,  an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

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