Insalata di Strada (Italian Street Salad)
Book: Jamie’s Italy by Jamie Oliver Theme: citrus Recipe: Insalata di Strada
This post kicks off my participation in the week 1 of the Cookbook Challenge in this hot (and eventually rainy) week. First of all, allow me to ramble before I get to the crux of this recipe. I found it really hard to be doing citrus (such a winter theme) in one of the hottest Spring week in Melbourne history. And guess what? I have no one to blame but myself because it was I, who pulled the theme out of the envelope. D’oh.
So here I was, totally stuck with this theme. I’m definitely not giving in and bake orange and poppy seed cake (although I have wanted to do that, the sticking point would be I have no cookbook that has orange and poppy seed cake – actually maybe Stephanie’s Cook Companion, but I digress) because that would be too easy.
This recipe in itself was no picnic. It is, in essence, a winter salad. Its main ingredients proved difficult: Cedro lemon? Non-existent here. Fennel? Winter vegetable. Blood orange? Well, I’d be lucky to find them. But guess what? The market provided! I went through all the stalls in the market to find decent fennel (believe me when I keep saying it’s not fennel season), some new potatoes, a head of radicchio and some blood oranges.
So you may ask what the hell is a Cedro lemon? In this recipe, Jamie writes about this salad as being a common street food in Palermo in the south of Italy where they have this special lemon which is mainly pith that gets sliced thinly and tossed into the local mixed salad. Jamie cautioned against using normal lemon. So I figured as the dressing for this salad contained blood orange anyway, why not just use the blood orange pith in its place? Personally, I had never eaten a blood orange pith before so I sliced one open and nibbled at it. Guess what? It was perfect! Score one for adaptation!
So here’s how I did up this beautiful little salad. I have to say aside from substituting Cedro lemon with blood orange, I pretty much stuck to what Jamie said. But I am cowboy when it comes to following any instructions or measuring ingredients, so here was how I did my salad.
Makes up one really large bowl of salad which two hungry people ate for dinner:
- 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar
- 1 tbsp of good grassy extra virgin olive oil
- salt & pepper
- 2 tbsp of jarred pickled caper, squeeze out of the pickling juice
- 2 small pinches of dried oregano
- juice from a blood orange, save the pith for the salad
Mix everything together. Taste and adjust accordingly.
* I have no dried oregano in the house but I do have plenty of fresh ones in the pot. So a few days ago, I just picked a sprig and hung it out to dry. I have to say, drying herbs is much harder than I thought when the weather isn’t with you on it. Notice how not very dried the oregano leaves are in the picture?
- 1 blood orange
- 3 new potatoes (about the size of mandarin), scrubbed
- 3 leaves of radicchio
- 1 handful of rocket leaves
- 1/2 bulb of baby fennel
- 7-8 fresh mint leaves
Start by bringing a pot of salted water to boil and add the potatoes. Don’t peel them. Boil for 20 minutes or until tender. Slice the fennel thinly and reserve some of the feathery tops. Tear the radicchio into bite-sized pieces. Slice one blood orange thinly. Once the potato is cooked, cut them into bite-sized cube while they are still hot. Toss through some of the dressing. Tear up and toss in the mint. Add the fennel, radicchio and rocket. Add the rest of the dressing and get your fingers in there and mix them up.
(slightly wilted version, 10 minutes later)
The idea of this salad (I hope anyway) to get everything thoroughly mixed together and the leaves to wilt into the warm(ish) dressing. So let it sit there about 10 minutes for tucking in. I promise you, it’s one of the more interesting salads you can make at home. We had this one its own for dinner. Jamie reckons you can serve it with grilled fish. I wouldn’t bother – it’s so good on its own.