Difficult one, this one – expensive too. What sort of truffle? In Umbria during summer there is a relatively abundant truffle known to its friends as Tuber aestivum or summer truffle. It is also comparatively inexpensive over there, about £100 a kilo or £2–3 a portion. It freezes well and is normally served raw, grated directly on to food straight from the freezer. Buy some if you get a chance in Italy, wrap them in tissue, put in a jar and refrigerate. Freeze individually, clingfilm wrapped, when you get them home. Use by Christmas.
That’s the truffle sorted out, now the rocket. The correct leaf for this dish is Eruca sativa, wild rocket. In fact this means any small, very strong rocket. I hope by the time this book comes out that supermarkets will sell rocket in realistic quantities and treat it like a salad and not like a herb.
Take a medium salad bowl and pour the balsamic vinegar in. Add the truffle oil, plus salt and pepper fairly generously. Take your truffle and through the medium holes of a grater (usually on the side), grate the truffle into the bowl. Remove any truffle that clings to the inside of the grater carefully with a small knife, and add to the bowl. Put in the rocket and very gently toss and stir the rocket until it has ‘cleaned’ the bowl. You are in essence dressing the salad bowl and then lightly wiping it with the salad leaves. This is a very effective technique for not flattening and subduing delicate salads.
Arrange the unbelievably aromatic rocket on four small plates and shave a few slivers of Parmesan over.
© 1996 Alastair Little. All rights reserved.