Le Sirenuse - Albergo di Positano


27.02.2024 RECIPES

Dolce Vitality is deeply rooted in our town of Positano, its ancient footpaths, the pure sea air that we breathe on our walks and during our twice-daily yoga sessions. And it is deeply rooted, too, in the area’s simple, seasonal food culture.


Working with food coach Valentina Dolci, Le Sirenuse’s head chef Gennaro Russo has created a menu of dishes that reflect the gastronomic bounty and the culinary traditions of this blessed corner of southern Italy. It may surprise those who associate the area around Naples with pasta, pizza and mozzarella that there is so much variety still on offer when gluten and dairy products are ruled out. But that was the challenge Gennaro and Valentina set themselves: to showcase the other side of the region’s cuisine, its winning ways with vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and seafood.


So many Dolce Vitality guests have asked us to provide them with recipes since the retreat  was launched in spring 2019 that we now present everyone with a printed selection at the end of the week. Here’s one that proved to be a hit last year.


This tasty dish was devised by chef Gennaro and heath consultant Valentina as a way of recycling what Gennaro charmingly calls the ‘culi di carciofo’ (that’s the, ahem, lower parts of the cauliflower) left over when the florets at the tip of each branch are removed to make cauliflower ‘risotto’. It’s no-waste, top-to-tail eating, vegan style. It’s also, Gennaro says, “a delicious, substantial main-course dish that fills a gap without piling on the calories”.



Serves 2


2 medium cauliflowers

5 red bell peppers

250g (9 oz) bitter greens

1 litre (34 fl.oz) vegetable broth

30ml (1 fl.oz) sherry vinegar

Tabasco, chilli (pepperoncino), oil and salt to taste


First, a word about ‘bitter greens’. This refers to pretty much any seasonal green-leaf vegetable with a bitter taste. In Italy, you will often see people gathering erbe amare like cicoria or dandelion leaves in fields or by the roadside. But for the purposes of this purée, there’s no need to go foraging: a mix of spinach, chard and lollo lettuce (or any bitter salad green) works just fine.


Begin by setting the oven to 160°C (320°F). Take each cauliflower, trim off the external leaves and any tough part of the stalk, place it upright and cut a ‘steak’ around 4cms thick (an inch and a half) out of the widest central part. (If you’re not using the rest of the cauliflower, you can reduce waste by using one large cauliflower rather than two medium ones, and getting two steaks out of it).


Splash some oil in a pan, heat on a medium flame and put the cauliflower steaks in to roast like veal cutlets. Three minutes on each side should be enough for them to take colour. When done, place them all in a baking tray with half (around 0.5 litres, 17 fl.oz) of the vegetable broth, cover with kitchen paper, and bake in the oven for 28 minutes.


To make the bell pepper ketchup, remove stalk and seeds from the bell peppers, chop finely, toss briefly with a little chopped chilli in some olive oil in a pan on a lively heat, pour in just enough vegetable broth to cover, lower the flame and leave to braise, covered, for around ten minutes. Then mouli the braised peppers with the sherry vinegar and a splash of tabasco and warm in a pan, adding a little more vegetable broth if necessary. You’re aiming for a dense, ketchup-like consistency.


To make the bitter greens purée, chop all the leaves roughly and throw into a pan of boiling water for three minutes, then remove and cool immediately in iced water. Reduce to a purée with a mouli or blender, adding a little vegetable broth if the liquid is too dense, and heat in a pan until warm.


Serve on individual plates with the cauliflower steak resting on a bed of bitter greens purée. Pour or drizzle the bell pepper ketchup on top as your fancy takes you.


Photos © Roberto Salomone

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