Kitchen Exhibitionist
The Culinary Quests of a Food Enthusiast Stuck in the Sticks
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Sale Profumato - Perfumed Salt

My gastronomical vacation to the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy in November taught me many surprising lessons. One lesson that seemed to appear over and over was that often the simplest things are the most amazing. Like the unpretentious but incredible pizza with roasted eggplant cooked in a wood fired oven at Nicola’s Ristorante in Bologna. Or how flavorful fresh parsley can be when it is used as more than a garnish. Or the wonderful brodo (broth) whose secret ingredients were chicken feet and a piece of rind of parmigiano reggiano. And then there is sale profumato, perfumed salt.

A cooking class with Chef Nicola of Ristorante Villa Golini in Riolo Terme first introduced me to this amazing condiment. Nicola held a container of salt-based seasoning under my nose. I sniffed and discovered the very delightful scents of garlic and herbs with an almost floral undertone, which turned out to be rosemary. We seasoned several dishes with this seasoning, including Robespierre steak and oven roasted potatoes.

A few days later, during cooking lessons in the Tori household in Bologna, Raffaella showed us how to make this simple but magical seasoning. Nothing more than coarse salt, fresh rosemary and fresh garlic chopped together creates an incredible aromatic mixture that adds the perfect highlight to roasted or grilled meats, or roasted vegetables. I plan to use it to flavor focaccia dough before baking and to season olive oil for bread dipping.

The mixture I made in Raffaella’s kitchen is now safely ensconced in a glass jar in my refrigerator (thankfully U.S. customs didn’t question it), where it will last for months, or at least until I use it up. I often find myself opening the jar and inhaling deeply just to relive those fragrant memories.

I saw bottles of sale profumato in some grocery stores in Italy, but knew it would be nothing like the fresh homemade version. This stuff is so easy to make and wonderful to use, everyone should keep a supply on hand. Here’s how.

Sale Profumato

Fresh rosemary leaves, removed from the stems, about a small handful
5 large cloves garlic
½ cup coarse salt

On a cutting board, use a large chef’s knife to chop all the ingredients together until well blended. As you chop you will be rewarded with wonderful aromas.

Place the mixture in a glass jar with a tight lid and store in the refrigerator, where it will last for months.

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