The lentils of Ventotene and squid soup reminds me immediately of gozzo boats, those painted in blue that for centuries have crossed the Mediterranean. For those few who do not know it, gozzo boats are those most often blue boats typical of Italian fishermen that can be seen practically in every picture of the past.
The gozzo is slow but it goes everywhere and seems to be part of the life of the sea just like fish. I remember the nights at sea harnessed to an incredible degree because the sea gets into your bones and only a fisherman knows what I say. The wind and the salt that cut like a blade. The memory of a couple of nocturnal sea trips with the Terracinesi (fishermen from Terracina) hunting for squid.
We went fishing between Ponza and Ventotene, in that stretch of sea so rich in history. From the sirens of Ulysses to Ventotene (which are said to be the Berte – small puffin birds, permanent birds of the island) to the sorceress Circe in San Felice Circeo up to the experiments of social urbanism of the Bourbons in Ponza. You can also buy the squid at the fish market, I also talk a lot but I don’t go out fishing every day to prepare an aperitif for friends.
What is certain is that you can taste the Pontine also in the dish and the Ventotene and lentil and squid soup contains all the flavour and scent of the sea.
The squid made with stewed lentils, those of Ventotene, is an ancient dish of the old fishermen of all the Lazio fishing fleets. And in Ventotene young organic farmers have now returned to produce the famous lentil. A little revisited, pleasant and easy to prepare, this can be considered a complete dish.
I like to serve it as a simple appetizer in small opaline bowls, but everyone does what he wants. But try to imagine it with the light and colours of the sunset with a glass of fresh wine and tell me if you don’t feel like doing it right away?
Recipe of the soup of lentils of Ventotene and Squid
Ingredients: Lentils, squid, garlic, onion, celery, carrot, fresh tomato, tomato sauce, rosemary, red pepper, oil, salt, white wine
I boil the lentils and let them sit, they are so fragrant that I don’t add anything else. I mix some of the lentils with fresh tomatoes and cooking water. If you also find the Ventotene tomatoes, don’t miss them. They grow with the humidity of the sea and are not artificially watered.
In a pan I add a little bit of garlic, onion, celery and carrot and chili pepper, in very little oil (we will use it raw afterwards). As soon as the aromas are rising, add the squid taking care to put the tentacles in first then the rest. As soon as the squid have dried, I pour out some white wine.
At this point add the lentils and the fresh tomato sauce and cook for two minutes. Then I add a bit of lentil smoothie and stir in a pan for another two minutes.
Serve with a drizzle of raw oil and a piece of rosemary. Beyond the usual aperitif!
It is to be enjoyed with a Biancolella di Migliaccio, the one that tastes of hay, is the best wine for this soup. It comes from Ponza and also smells of the aromas of the Pontine sea.