A picnic from your wildest dreams, by Giovanna Garzoni.
Recipe: Roast Lamb Sandwich with Ricotta and Caper Pesto
Pasquetta sounds wonderful to me. That’s Easter Monday, when Italians pack up a picnic lunch and head to the countryside to spread it all out under the Italian sun. We generally don’t have the weather for a Pasquetta picnic in New York, where I live, so this nice little celebration is out. Plus we don’t get the day off, so we’re doubly out of luck here.
Come to think of it, Americans generally don’t have picnics. We do barbecues, don’t we? I certainly didn’t grow up having any picnics on Long Island, but we had plenty of barbecues. Picnics are European. You can bring pâté to a picnic, and wine. There was, though, that William Inge play Picnic, which was made into a movie with William Holden as the handsome but creepy drifter who slips into town to cause trouble on Labor Day. Maybe in Kansas they have picnics.
If I lived in Italy and were packing up a big basket for Pasquetta, this is what I’d include (you’ve got to do something with all the leftover lamb). By the way, the painting above by Giovanna Garzoni is my idea of a great picnic. How can you go wrong with a spread that contains a scary dog, a dead bird, and a bunch of cardoons?
Happy Pasquetta to you.
Roast Lamb Sandwich with Ricotta and Caper Pesto
¼ cup salt-packed capers, soaked for 20 minutes and then rinsed
1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
A small handful of flat-leaf parsley leaves
⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
½ a large baguette, sliced horizontally
6 good-size slices of roasted leg of lamb, not too rare, at room temperature
½ cup whole-milk ricotta (sheep’s milk, if you can find it)
A handful of baby arugula
Place the capers, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and a few grindings of black pepper in the bowl of a small food processor, and pulse to a rough paste.
Smear the insides of the baguette with a thin layer of caper pesto. Lay the lamb on the flat sides of the bread, and make a layer of ricotta on the rounded sides. Season the lamb with salt and black pepper, and top with the arugula. Close up the sandwiches, and wrap them in aluminum foil. Grab a cold bottle of Frascati and a pint of strawberries, and head for the warm sun.