A few weeks ago, we took my husband's aunt and his two teenaged cousins, who were in town from Florida, to A Voce in Columbus Circle for dinner. Jonathan and I hadn't been there in a year or two, and while I recalled enjoying everything I'd eaten the first time around, the specifics were a little hazy.
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What I should have remembered -- aside from the ethereal homemade pastas, a killer salumi plate, and a very impressive wine list -- are the vegetables, or contorni as they call them at A Voce. The nightly selection is wide and varied, each vegetable at its seasonal peak, treated with appropriate deference and minimally touched so it can shine in all its glory.
On this visit, we happened to order two real standouts: paper-thin radish slices tumbled in a briny-but-not-too-fishy-for-teenagers anchovy vinaigrette, and bright green sugar snaps sautéed with breadcrumbs, lemon zest and a hint of chili. The sugar snaps were so delicious that we placed a second order before we were even halfway through our first.
Last week, I attempted to recreate this simple, perfect little dish. I added a little garlic to homemade breadcrumbs, which I toasted in a generous amount of olive oil, along with lemon zest and chili flakes, and I made sure to cook the peas just until they turned a vibrant green, without waiting for them to become limp and impassive. An important note: these are best served just out of the pan -- the breadcrumbs will quickly start to lose their crunch!
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).