Carrello

The origins of these unique peppers and a regional recipe to enjoy them in their sweet, dried, crunchy and highly addictive chip form, called “Starìci”!

Teggiano, formerly known as the state of Diano, lies just south of Salerno in the region of Campania. This town was put on my personal map by virtue of a curious pepper that I came across while doing my usual online shopping for new and interesting specialty Italian provisions.

The name alone caught my eye, so I decided to go straight to the source for more information. I reached out to Pietro d’Elia, founder of I Segreti di Diano the company that has a full line of products and condiments made from Sciuscillone and their spicier counterpart, Serpentino. His explanation was fascinating, sharing that the name is derived from the word sciuscella, or carob. These peppers are not a vegetable, in fact. They are a fruit! I was all in at this point, my interest piqued to the point that I picked up one of the most enticing products in Pietro’s portfolio, Starìci. These sweet, affectionately named (starìci in Teggianese dialect is a term of endearment), dried pepper chips were an unexpected delight. One chip after the next, the clean yet complex nature of them landed my hand at the bottom of the jar in no time…

So what is the secret to these addictively crunchy peppers? Much like cruschi of the Basilicata region, they are sun-dried, seeded, toasted and fried in extra virgin olive oil. The Dianesi carry out this process with care, hand harvesting, skewering each pepper with a needle and twine, and hanging them to dry on long chains called nzerte. Beyond eating them in their natural state, I immediately began considering different ways to enjoy them. Coarsely crushed, they are fantastic as a replacement for croutons in salads or soups. Crushing them more finely will leave you with a sweet and texturally interesting garnish for pasta dishes, eggs or even pizza.

spagheti sciuscillone i segrti di diano

Do you want in on the Sciuscillone secret? Try your hand at Spaghettoni, a dish native to Teggiano that stars Starìci and Pòrva, a powdered spice made from dried, roasted Sciuscillone, compliments of Pietro’s friend and business partner, chef Tony Granieri!

Spaghettoni Pòrva, Breadcrumbs and Starìci by Chef Tony Granieri

Serves 4 people

Ingredients:

1 lb. spaghettoni or spaghetti
2 Tbsp. Pòrva
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
1/3 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup medium-aged pecorino cheese
15 pieces Starìci
Salt to taste

Method:

To start, add water to a large pot and salt it generously while waiting for it to boil.
Once the water is at a rapid boil, drop the spaghettoni.
In the meantime, heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and brown the whole clove of garlic. Once toasted, remove the garlic and add the Pòrva in the oil, being careful not to burn it. As soon as it starts to fry, remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
In a separate non-stick pan, toast the breadcrumbs with the grated pecorino, then set aside.
Once the pasta is cooked to al dente, drain and toss in the pan with the extra virgin olive oil and Pòrva. Mix well, and if desired, add salt.
Plate each serving of spaghettoni and top with a generous spoonful of the pecorino breadcrumbs.
Garnish each plate with four, crushed Starìci. Enjoy!

Articolo di Stephanie Rizzolo – per “LACUCINAITALIANA.COM”
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