Blessed Fra Angelico
The early Italian Renaissance painter Fra Angelico (1395-1455) was a priest and a master in creating lush, gorgeously colored religious scenes. In his book ‘The Life of the Artists’, Vasari describes him as having “a rare and perfect talent”. As a result of his artistry and piety, Pope John Paul 11 beautified him in 1982.
His namesake Liqueur is a work of art in its own right. The hazelnut flavored drink dates back about three hundred years to early Christian monks living in the hills of Northern Italy. Even though Fra Angelico was a Dominican, it’s widely believed the liqueur was named after him.
This year to celebrate the work of this amazing artist, I’ve created a winter salad using the lovely Fra Angelico liqueur as a base for a vinaigrette. I hope you will have an opportunity to gaze at some of his art (The Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan owns ‘The Crucifixion’) and possibly make this salad on February 18th, his feast day.
Orange and Hazelnut Salad with Fra Angelico Vinaigrette
1 medium head of frisee, torn into pieces
A few sprigs of fresh tarragon, leaves lightly chopped
2 small oranges, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
A handful of peeled and very fresh hazelnuts
1 small shallot, very thinly sliced
For the vinaigrette:
1 tablespoon Fra Angelico liqueur
The grated zest from 1 orange
1 teaspoon Spanish wine vinegar
A pinch of salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil
Place all the ingredients for the salad in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, add the Fra Angelico, the orange zest, and the vinegar. Season it with salt and black pepper. Whisk in the hazelnut oil, pour this over the salad and toss. Divide it up onto two salad plates and serve right away.
Top Image: Detail from “The Deposition of Christ” by Fra Angelico, thought to be a self portrait painted between 1437 and 1446.
“Dining With the Saints” is a monthly column by writer and chef, Erica DeMane. Check out her website: EricaDeMane.com.