Recipe courtesy of Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia in Chicago
• 4 6-ounce sturgeon fillets
• Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Red vein sorrel and parsley (optional)
• Squash puree
• Herb squash pesto
• Crispy squash blossoms
1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
2. Season the sturgeon fillets on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat an oven-safe skillet on the stove over medium-high heat for about 1 minute. Add the olive oil and heat for 30 seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully add the fish to the pan. Return pan to heat and cook until the bottom has a toasted brown crust, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip, and finish cooking in the preheated oven for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove fish from pan and let rest 1 minute before serving.
3. To serve, halve the 4 reserved whole-roasted squash and divide among 4 warm plates. Divide the puree equally among the plates, ladling it alongside the squash. Place a serving of the roasted sturgeon fillet on top of the puree. Top each fillet with a fried squash blossom. Garnish the squash with red vein sorrel and parsley, if using, and serve immediately. Serves 4.
To make the squash puree
• 6 green and yellow baby squash, trimmed, whole
• 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Sea salt
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 small onion, diced
• 2 medium heirloom tomatoes, blanched, skinned, seeded and chopped
• Juice of 1 lemon
• Freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
2. In a medium bowl, toss the squash with 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil. Season with salt. Roast until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep 4 squash warm, wrapped in foil for plating. Use the remaining 2 squash for the puree.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium pan set over low heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the garlic and onions and cook until the mixture is translucent, 10 to 15 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until the liquid has mostly evaporated.
4. Transfer the tomato mixture to a blender and add the 2 roasted squash and the lemon juice. Blend until smooth, taking care not to overfill the blender (hold the lid with a kitchen towel to protect against splashing). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the herb squash pesto
• 1 cup loosely packed flat-leaf parsley leaves
• 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
• 3 baby squash, trimmed and roughly chopped
• 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
• 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
• 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1. Prepare an ice bath in a medium bowl. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil over high heat. Add the parsley and basil leaves and blanch for 10 seconds. Drain, and plunge into the ice bath to stop the cooking. When cold, drain and squeeze out any extra water by rolling the herbs in a towel.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor, finely process the raw squash.
3. Pour the olive oil into a blender and slowly incorporate the blanched herbs and pine nuts. Process until finely chopped into a paste. Transfer the pesto to a bowl.
4. Fold in the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and processed raw squash. Season with salt to taste. The mixture should be the consistency of a thick paste. Set aside until ready to use.
To make the crispy squash blossoms
• 4 cups canola oil
• Herb squash pesto
• 8 squash blossoms, stamens removed
• 1/2 cup flour
• 1/2 cup soda water
1. Heat the canola oil in a deep fryer or a heavy-bottomed pot to 375° F.
2. Place the squash pesto in a piping bag, and pipe pesto into each squash blossom to fill. Twist the points of the blossoms together to close.
3. In a medium bowl, gently combine the flour and soda water until foamy to make the batter.
4. Dip the filled squash blossoms in the batter and add to the hot oil. Deep fry until golden brown, 1 minute. Remove from the hot oil and drain on paper towels.
Recommended wine pairings
Broglia Gavi Il Doge 2016 (90, $18)
Coppo Gavi La Rocca 2016 (88, $17)
Leonildo Pieropan Soave Classico 2015 (89, $20)