ciauscolo, rucola, dark bread; sautéed cucumber pasta, dill

I’d never heard of ciauscolo a month ago, but if I had heard the seductive description, ‘soft, spreadable salami’, I would have been very surprised if it did not exist somewhere.

I’m now here to say that it does, that it apparently has existed for a very long time, mostly in Umbria and the neighboring Marche, and I can now confirm that it’s as succulent and seductive as the description suggests.

Last night I served it as a very meaty appetizer for a very un-meaty pasta. I don’t know why I didn’t just spread the sausage on the bread before serving it, instead of setting it up in the middle of the plates, unless I was thrown off by my late decision to include some fresh baby arugula on the side. Next time I’ll be prepared.

  • four ounces of an Umbrian-style Ciauscolo spreadable salami from southern Vermont farmers Rico and Jill of Walnut Hill Farm (newly arrived at the Union Square Greenmarket this summer), arranged on 2 plates
  • handfuls of baby arugula (rucola) from Phillips Farms, dressed with Renieris Estate ‘Divina’ olive oil (Koroneiki varietal), from Hania, Crete, purchased at Chelsea Whole Foods Market
  • slices of rich ‘Seedy Grains’ bread from Lost Bread Co. (wheat, spelt, rye, and barley organic bread flours; buckwheat; oats; flax sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds; water, and salt)

The main course was a refreshing followup to the salumi, dominated by the flavors of cucumber and dill.

  • two garlic scapes from Norwich Meadows Farm, cut into one inch lengths, heated over moderate heat in a little olive oil inside a large antique copper pot until almost softened, one thinly sliced narrow stalk of very green celery from Norwich Meadow Farm added near the end, the heat increased and one conventional green cucumber from Stokes Farm and 2 luscious yellow cucumbers from Alewife Farm, all sliced roughly half an inch thick, added and sautéed until beginning to brown or carbonize on their edges, followed by one thinly sliced very small red onion from Norwich Meadows Farm and one fresh habanada pepper from Campo Rosso Farm (which seemed to have retained some of the heat of its habañero ancestors), which were stirred until both were softened, then 9 ounces of a very good Campania pasta, cooked al dente (Afeltra 100% Grano Italiano Biologico Pasta di Grannano IG.P. Artigianale rigatone from Eataly Flatiron) tossed into the sauce pot with almost a cup of retained pasta water, everything stirred over high heat until the liquid had emulsified, the mix arranged inside 2 shallow bowls, and a generous amount of scissored dill flowers from Willow Wisp Farm scattered on top