Make truffle salt your secret weapon!
By Jenifer Antonelli
Valentine's Day is a time to express your love and devotion to your special someone. Maybe you have a reservation at your favorite restaurant, or perhaps you plan to create an unforgettable evening at home. Whatever your plans, dare I suggest they involve truffles?
A truffle is a type of fungus, similar to a mushroom, that grows underground. it has a very distinct umami flavor and is highly prized in haute cuisine, especially in France and Italy. Because the truffles are subterranean, specially trained dogs or pigs are used to hunt and find them. The most expensive "white diamond" truffle costs hundreds of dollars per ounce. At finer dining establishments, the server may offer to shave some coveted fresh truffles atop your dish for an additional $30 or so for an amazing flavor boost.
I love the flavor of truffles, but I don't love the price tag that comes with fresh truffles. Fortunately, I've found that you can get the most bang for your buck by sprinkling truffle salt on your finished dish to make it extra special. You can find truffle-infused oils and truffle salts at gourmet markets and right here at Whole Foods in Plaza El Segundo. I prefer truffle salts because the oils tend to lose their flavor over time and they don't actually contain any truffles. When stored in a cool, dry place, truffle salt can be your secret weapon to elevate an everyday dish to something incredible. You can buy white or black truffle salt for about $30 for 3 ounces. The white salts tend to be more mild in flavor whereas the black truffle salts are more aromatic.
Truffle salt---how do I love thee? Let me count the ways:
1. Truffle-Butter Pasta. Cook one pound of your favorite pasta shape until its texture is al dente. Drain the noodles, then toss with one stick of unsalted butter. Sprinkle truffle salt on top to taste, and a simply delicious dinner is served!
2. Elevate Your Eggs. When making your sweetheart a Valentine's Day breakfast, sprinkle a little truffle salt on top of their eggs for an extra-special start to their day.
3. Popcorn. Air-pop some popcorn, drizzle melted butter on top, then sprinkle with truffle salt to taste. This one is probably my favorite. Of course, you can serve popcorn during a romantic movie night curled up on the couch, but I've also served this truffle-butter popcorn as a whimsical appetizer at the start of a multi-course wine-tasting dinner party. It pairs perfectly with Champagne.
4. Potatoes. Whether roasted, boiled, or mashed, you can transform your humble spuds into a mouth-watering side dish by adding some truffle salt to the dish.
5. Meat. If you're planning to grill some steaks this February 14th, after the meat is done cooking, sprinkle a little truffle salt on top just before serving.
Happy Valentine's Day!
Jenifer Antonelli is the owner of Vino and Viand Personal Chef Services. @vinoandviand on Facebook and Instagram.
El Segundo Eats is sponsored by Good Stuff Restaurants every month.
This column appears in the February 2020 issue of The El Segundo Scene.