Vanilla isn’t just for desserts: 5 savory dishes to try

Vanilla isn’t just for desserts: 5 savory dishes to try

Vanilla is a fine spice and is not only used in pastry: 5 chefs from Rome teach us how to use it also in savory dishes.

The doubt is always the same: vanilla or lemon zest in the shortcrust pastry? Lemon zest or vanilla in the custard? Could the role of vanilla end here? Can it be used up as a mere flavoring of desserts at the end of a meal or at the beginning of the day? Can this berry, daughter of an orchid – spicy, oily, round – really remain chained in pastry manuals, between 25 grams of dextrose and 337.5 grams of 00 flour? It is the second most expensive spice in the world: don’t just use it in a donut. Follow the advice of some chefs who since what year have understood the salty potential of this berry and have gone further by starting to insert it in oils , brothssauces and salty marinades .


  1. quay 63Vanilla salt . Everyone’s talking about vanilla sugar: it’s time we started talking about vanilla salt. On the menu of the newborn Banchina 63 , a restaurant in the Prati district of Rome, among the appetizers is the Gambero Rosso dish with datterini tomatoes and ginger soup, fresh burrata, caramelized lime zest and vanilla black salt flakes . The vanilla salt comes at the end, to enhance the sweet tendencies of the shrimp. Preparing it is simple: take the vanilla pod, perhaps already consumed from previous processing, break it and forget itin the salt jar. Already after a couple of weeks you will have an exotic salt that you can proudly serve next to raw fish. Please, do not use it to salt the pasta water.
  2. stepVanilla oil . On Italian tables, if there is salt, there is also oil, obviously extra virgin olive oil. And if there is vanilla salt, to be fair, there must also be vanilla oil. To prepare it just a moment: as for the salt, take the pod, open it and leave it to infuse in the oil. The longer it stays, the more flavor it will release. How to use it? Arcangelo Dandini at the Passetto restaurant , a few meters from Piazza Navona, uses it to dress a warm salad of freshly seared prawns, chicory and peaches with saffron from Norcia.
  3. 74d4f60f-f5c7-4dfd-9af4-8dd694f8383dPasta . After salt and oil, what cannot be missing in the kitchens of Italy? The pasta. And here Simone Curti, chef of the restaurant in Ostia Molo Diciassette , offers his customers a Linguina with raw red shrimp, freshly sautéed cherry tomatoes, lime zest and vanilla. It is a warm and summery pasta that deviates from the classic spaghetti with clams.
  4. fettuccine-2001For vegetarians . Vegetarians will be looked after by Salvatore Tassa , chef and patron of the Michelin-starred restaurant  Colline Ciociare in Acuto in the province of Frosinone, with the famous 2001 creamed Fettuccine , pecorino cheese with grilled cherry tomatoes and bourbon vanilla. The cherry tomatoes are roasted in a pan, flavored with garlic, oil and vanilla and at the last used as a condiment for fresh pasta together with Roman mint and pecorino romano. The sciuè sciuè dish par excellence becomes a starry, refined and intriguing first course: all thanks to the vanilla.
  5. cheek-of-ox-piperoIn the side dish of the meat . For carnivores the question becomes difficult. Who would ever pair beef steak with a spice mistakenly considered sweet? But a light can be seen at the end of the tunnel. Thanks to whom? Luciano Monosilio, chef of the starred Pipero , who a few years ago created a second dish based on low temperature cooked ox cheek , port gel and mashed cauliflower and vanilla. Cauliflower, potatoes and spring onions browned in butter, covered with milk, flavored with vanilla and blended, are the protagonists of this full-bodied second course. The same puree can be used next to a more homemade stew or, why not, next to a steamed lobster.

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