Nervetti: there’s nothing to get nervous about

Nervetti in insalata

Checklist. I’ve gently picked through calf brains, courageously chewed the ruffled thing atop a rooster’s head, and gobbled my fair share of pork fatback, so what’s next? Anyone game for a cold salad of veal tendons?

Nervetti, or more specifically nervetti in gelatina (in gelatin), is simply chopped up tendons and meat from the foot of a calf. They hang out in the offal section in the supermarket, and have nothing to do with nerves, not even nervous breakdowns, and I was actually pleased to see it on the list of foods at Frommer’s (to try, I presume). What you see in the photo below is how it comes as a whole piece – bits of stuff all wrapped up in a block of gelatin.

Nervetti in gelatina
Slice it, don’t dice it

The turn-off to nervetti is its texture. Even when mixed with vegetables and seasoned with oil and vinegar, there’s no mistaking that firm cube of “jell-o” in each mouthful. The flavor isn’t all that noticeable (tastes like canned meat spread to me), but I found that when nervetti is sliced thin, it blends in better with the rest of the salad stuff. Do give it a try if you see this as part of an antipasto buffet in Italy, but if using it at home, just remember these ingredients: nervetti, sweet onions, cooked cannellini beans, chopped parsley, olive oil, white wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Slice the first two as thinly as you can and mix with the rest, adding just enough oil and vinegar to dress the salad. Buon appetito!

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