If I were his Chef: Alvaro Morata, Juventus

Chef Di’s SportsBites: If I were their Chef series has a temporary home on our Melting Pot Tour’s blog, during an exciting period for world football (soccer) and, spectacular recipes! These stories honor the Chef’s favorite international players of the sport, each of whom inspires a recipe that is offered as her gift to them … to thank them for making the world more beautiful. This week’s muse is Alvaro Morata, of (Torino) Italy’s Juventus.

The swoon-worthy Spaniard on loan from Real Madrid to Juventus (with whom he is doing extremely well and is very happy) – are gravely concerned that their strong, talented young star will be ransomed back to Madrid sooner than later.

This same hero once shaved his head so that kids with cancer could have his hairstyle. His jersey is #9, my favorite. Recently he posted a romantically moonlit, rooftop foto with his girlfriend captioned, “Love is in the air.” One of the codes I live by. I love this man.

If I were his Chef, I’d really be inclined to host a SoCal dinner party in my home, to honor my muse and that equally gorgeous Maria. My own fellow Juventini would be all in, to celebrate his fantastic success this season. (Juventini = fans of the Torino-based club)

But, considering what my reliable Italian sources are saying, I must relocate the party to Torino, so that the celebration comes to him. We really want him to stay there.

Our venue is Ristorante La Campana, Albergo Chelsea. My favorite Executive Chef, Mario Lentini, will cook with me. If “Alvarito” has not yet dined there (it neighbors the official Juventus store downtown), it’s time he dines there now.

A full-on Juventus-inspired menu is in order for the party taking place this summer. Our gorgeous Bianconeri (white-black jerseys) have already raised the Scudetto Cup for the Italian league title. Thanks to the darling Morata, his goal in the second leg of the Champion League semifinal (opposing Real Madrid), has carried Juventus to the Final in Berlin, this 6 of June.

Lots of reason to celebrate so, my co-hosting Chef Mario’s own best plates on the table may include duck, braised lamb with rosemary, perhaps the involtini that he taught me in the spring of 2007. Dessert is bonet – it’s classic Piemontese, rich, and perfect for sharing; I think Alvarito and Maria will love that.

In summer 2012, my special BarComida menu honored the Nazionale, some of whom are still with Juventus. This party menu and guest list are now very easy to divine, see?

We’ll have Chiellini’s sausage farinata pizza; Buffon’s Tuscan lemon-rosemary chicken with olives and pignoli; Pirlo’s poached white nectarines with mascarpone and crushed biscotti amaretti; and, out of sheer respect and pure hero-worship, shrimp in dreamy-creamy Prosecco sauce inspired by Alessandro Del Piero. Everyone named here, plus the rest of his championship squad – and my LA Juventini – will find this invitation irresistible!

Pasta Bianconeri, something extraordinary on my seasonal BarComida menu that was inspired by Juventus in the first place, has Alvaro Mmmmmmorata’s name all over it. Summer is the perfect season for Aphrodite’s signature shellfish in a clean, fresh citrus-butter sauce, nestled in black&white pasta, finished with crushed pistachios, a little heat, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

For this special edition plate, artisan-quality olive oil originates in Alba (an hour from Torino) – a gift from my very dear, local friend Max Rinaldi. The classic California signatures – citrus and pistachios – may eventually lure Alvaro here to LA later on, why not? A girl can dream 😉

I’d thought of seamlessly including influences from his native Madrid – even something inspired by perhaps his favorite restaurant El Tulipan’ – but my instincts told me not to go there, not to confuse him.

We need to keep Alvaro Morata’s undivided attention at a table that is focused on the present.

And ideally, his stellar future.

Buon appetito!

Pasta Bianconeri with Shellfish, Citrus, and Pistachios, for Alvaro Mmmmorata

Prepare components:
  • 1 lb. egg spaghetti noodles
  • 1/2 lb. black squid ink noodles
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Cook pastas in separate stockpots, “al dente”, according to package directions, reserving 2 cups pasta water; toss pasta with oil and set aside (may now combine, in one large bowl); keep warm.
  • Zest and juice of (each) 1 orange and 1 grapefruit, for marinade
  • 1 tsp dried Italian herbs, crushed with fingers
  • 1/4 cup fine olive oil
  • 18 large raw shrimp, tails removed, peeled and deveined, halved
  • 8 raw sea scallops, halved
  • Mix citrus with parsley and olive oil. Place shellfish pieces in marinade for up to 20 minutes. Note: any mixed shellfish may be used; shrimp is shown in foto.
  • 4 Tbsp softened butter
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
  • Mix softened butter with shallot and citrus zest, for cooking shellfish and pasta.
  • Freshly-squeezed juice of 6-8 seasonal citrus fruits (your choice of single variety or combined oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, etc; this ought to yield at least 1 1/2 cups; use zested fruits from butter prep above.)
  • 1 cup favorite white wine
  • Combine juice and wine, and place in squeeze bottle if possible, for pasta “sauce”.
  • Reserved pasta water
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup shelled pistachios, chopped finely
  • Dried chili flakes
  • Fine extra-virgin olive oil, for preparing and finishing dish
Prepare pasta for serving:
  • In large skillet over medium-high heat, melt about 1/3 of citrus butter with some olive oil. 
  • When sizzling, add a handful of marinated shellfish (single layer in skillet), sprinkle with salt and pepper. 
  • Cook until shrimp is no longer pink and scallop pieces are very lightly browned. 
  • Squeeze generous amount of citrus juice-wine mixture, and a little of the reserved pasta water, over shellfish to deglaze pan, and add about 1/3 of the mixed black&white pasta. 
  • Heat through, stirring quickly, adding more liquid as necessary. 
  • Pasta and shellfish will be glazed with sauce when cooked through; transfer all skillet contents to large serving bowl.
  • Repeat with remaining ingredients until all pasta and shellfish are prepared; transferring all contents to serving bowl.
  • Sprinkle entire contents of bowl with pistachios and sprinkle of dried chili flakes, and finish with a generous drizzle of fine extra-virgin olive oil before serving.
Yields 6-8 main course servings.

Until next time, I remain ~
Your Chef and Tour Maestra

Diana Scalia