Serves 4 to 6 as a main dish
Though light and low in fat, this one-dish meal is sustaining enough to satisfy hungry appetites. You'll see why salads like this - of bread, vegetables, and herbs - have always been improvised by cooks throughout the Mediterranean. They were and are born of ingredients found in almost every kitchen - the last remnants of the previous week's bread baking, dried out perhaps, but far too important as food to ever throw away; vinegar, always in the larder for flavoring and preserving; and whatever vegetables the market offers at any particular time.
Use the following as a starting point, and be sure to use organic ingredients if at all possible. They make a big difference not only in what you put in your mouth, but to our environment.
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/2 inch dice ice
1/2 loaf or 4 cups big chunks of coarse, chewy country bread (whole wheat, multi-grain, or part whole wheat, all without sugar)
7 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup cold water
1 small clove garlic, minced
1 small stalk celery with leaves
1 to 2 sweet yellow peppers, cut into 1/2-inch dice
small bunch young dandelion greens, arugala, or wild salad mix
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 pound Sugarsnap peas, strung and cut in half
15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
12 Italian oil-cured or Kalamata olives, pitted
3 whole scallions
1 tablespoon salted or vinegar-marinated capers, rinsed
about 18 fresh coriander or basil leaves
6 large fresh mint leaves
3 tablespoons fruity extra-virgin olive oil
3 ounces Ricotta Salata or Fontinella cheese
crumbled salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, cover onions with ice water. Put bread in another bowl, sprinkling with 3 tablespoons of the vinegar and the 1/2 cup water. Chill both 30 minutes while preparing other ingredients. In a large bowl, mash together anchovy, rest of the vinegar, and the garlic. Let stand about 10 minutes. Add all the vegetables. Set aside a few whole herb leaves, then finely chop the rest with the garlic, olives, scallions, and capers. Add to the bowl with the drained onions. Squeeze bread dry, adding it to the bowl with rest of the vinegar and the cheese. Toss and taste for seasoning.
Finish with the herb leaves. A large white bowl sets off the salad's color beautifully. Serve lightly chilled.
Copyright 1996 Lynne Rossetto Kasper
Each week, The Splendid Table brings you stories that expand your world view, inspire you to try something new and show how food brings us together. We rely on you to do this. And, when you donate, you'll become a member of The Splendid Table Co-op. It's a community of like-minded individuals who love good food, good conversation and kitchen companionship. Splendid Table Co-op members will get exclusive content each month and have special opportunities for connecting with The Splendid Table team.
Donate today for as little as $5.00 a month. Your gift only takes a few minutes and has a lasting impact on The Splendid Table and you'll be welcomed into The Splendid Table Co-op.