The winter of 2019 feels so long ago. It was way before we got serious about keto and eating butter was normal.I spent the first three days we were in Italy four years ago so good Godly ill. It was not Covid. I have spent the last three years, not building my own small business, not becoming the best Anglo-Indian chef in my small town of Big Bear Lake California but trying to convince friends, family and this dog, I was not patient zero during the epidemic with Covid for goodness sake. I most definitely had one hell of the stomach flu three years ago in Venice, Italy. Not Covid. There is a huge difference!
Of course, this journey abroad to Costierra Amalfitana was long before my journey to keto and eating butter was considered normal. Honestly, after spending my three days in Venice, Italy prior to our flight to Naples mostly hovering over a Venetian toilet, I didn’t care how many carbs were in whatever I was shoving in my face by the time we landed at Aeroporto Internazionale di Roma–Fiumicino “Leonardo da Vinci” It was the first time in days that I actually had the will to consume food again. No one should go to Italy and just not be at all interested in food! It’s just wrong!
Benvenuto in Italia!
I still was feeling just a bit under the weather (Still, I did not have Covid!) as we boarded an express train in Rome, zipping towards Naples. We enjoyed some delicious darkly roasted Roman coffee as the green hillsides flew by outside the train windows. I hadn’t puked in a day. The coffee was fantastic and helped me feel alive again. It was so pleasant. Then we entered the tiny little Naples station and caught a commuter train heading towards Sorrento, Circumvesuviana. That was an adventure. We were definitely the only Americans on the commuter train and it was way more of a questionable safety experience. I kept my handbag with my passport close to my body, I’ll put it that way.
Our trip to the Amalfi Coast was extraordinary for so many reasons. The first is it happened literally as Covid was blossoming all over Italy and we had no idea. Just a few weeks later international travel worldwide would be completely shut down. Families on different continents would be torn apart, separated for years as grandparents passed away, babies were born and Donald Trump reined supreme in ‘Merica.
The second reason this trip to Amalfi was different was we didn’t actually venture to Capri, which is the one excursion most people do when they visit Amalfi! I’m actually good with that as I get terribly seasick and I had just moved on from puking for three days straight. I was happy to stay on the shore and tour the Amalfi Coast in our rental vehicle. When we road-tripped around Amalfi it was the colder winter period and most shops and restaurants were boarded up for the season. I would rather come back and journey to the turquoise waters of Capri in the warmer months. (When our awesome Airbnb we found just steps from the seaside would probably be five hundred euros a night)
Downstairs from our fantastic Airbnb was one of the best pizza parlors I have ever been privileged to walk into in my entire life. This particular stone-fired pizza with shrimp had just been caught off the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea in the Gulf of Naples hours earlier. They were some of the most mouth-watering tiny crustaceans I have ever tasted in my life. The pesto and ricotta they were served with was out-of-this-world delicious. And now that we are back home doing keto and eating butter non-stop I make the best Sorrento-inspired Dover Sole with Ricotta and Pesto. It’s an out-of-this-world keto good time.
Once upon a time before keto and eating butter as a snack
But back to the shores of Sorrento and wood-fired pizzas dotted with ricotta cheese, basil and lemon zest. It was flat-out the best pizza I have ever enjoyed in my life. Maybe that was because our trip to the Bay of Naples and Sorrento was the first day we were in Italy I could bring myself to eat solid foods again. Why not shove all the pizzas at my face? So I kind of inhaled a lot of wood-fired pizzas for a few days. I have no shame. These pizzas were so fantastic we visited this pizzeria three nights in a row for dinner! Part of that was because visiting Sorrento in the off-season, every single restaurant was closed. We were staying in the area of Sorrento quite far from the Christmas-decorated tourist area and there were no ubers in this area or taxis.
Flash forward over three years and I can’t recall what a delicious Italian wood-fired pizza tasted like. It’s been so long since I had a wood-fired pizza or a carb for heaven’s sake! I’m not going to lie; Keto is fucking tough and not just because I’m uncomfortable eating butter as a snack.
Now here we are four years and Covid 19 LBS later from those beautiful days in Sorrento on a rooftop with our vacation cat. We are hardcore back on the keto bandwagon and that means no pizza for us. So I had to come up with a pizza-like treat that would bring us right back to Amalfi without crashing us right out of ketosis.
Pesto Shrimp and Goat Cheese Keto Wontons
9 slices sliced mozzarella chees
3 tablespoons pesto sauce
1 teaspoon bacon fat
1/4 cups fennel, chopped thin
1/2 cup Argentine shrimp, chopped thin
1/4 cups goat cheese
6 leaves fresh basil, torn
1 lemon zested
Preheat your oven to 375. On sheets of parchment paper lay your slices of mozzarella cheese, so they are not touching. Bake for 6 minutes until just soft and melty. While the cheese is baking in a pan, heat your bacon fat. Add the chopped fennel and cook for just a few minutes. Set aside. Add the shrimp and pesto to another pan and cook just until no longer pink. On each cheese slice, add a small dollop of fennel, shrimp, goat cheese, basil and lemon zest. Fold the slices over into a triangle and try to close the edges (They won’t close all the way but you can close them a little. Return back to the oven and cook for five more minutes. Turn your oven to broil and cook for two more minutes. They should be just slightly brown when you remove them from the oven.
Let the wontons sit for two minutes and you are ready to serve.