Saturday, 4 June 2011

Mediterranean Madness

Insalata Estiva con Pane Tostato & Feta
Summer Salad with Toasted Bread & Feta Cheese

I was in the mood for a nice mixed salad tonight. The weather has been so hot lately it just seemed like the right thing. Then, just as I left the farmers market with my groceries, there was a sudden build-up of clouds, they went from white to black within around 5 minutes... and I made a run for home, wishing I had an Ark... It was like the end of the world! Or at least the end of the Summer! But of course it wasn't and of course I still went ahead and made this summery dish of Mediterranean goodness, poured myself a glass of wine and let the rain fall down and the thunder roll on...

I guess the inspiration for this salad, was the traditional, old, Italian "Panzanella", which is basically a tomato and onion salad with toasted old bread to soak up the juices. Poor- peoples food but delicious all the same.

And although I am far from rich- I decided I could do better than that tonight! 

What I wanted to have was a lot of contrasting flavors and textures- mild, sweet, salty, tangy, hot, crispy and juicy. With salads, it is always a balancing act with your dressing and your ingredients. 

I hate when salads have heavy dressings that overpower the flavors of the ingredients- as far as I am concerned, the dressing should simply strengthen and enhance the flavors on your plate. The combination I went for tonight was a large leaf of lollo rosso lettuce which I lay on my plate, then some thin slices of peach, the toasted bread, feta cheese, cherry tomatoes and black olives. I squeezed lemon juice over it all, sprinkled it with sea salt and gave it a grind of red chili flakes. I then added a little watercress and some fresh thyme- making sure to use some of the pretty blossoms- so pretty! To finish dressing the salad, I gave it a drizzle of honey and a splash of extra virgin olive oil. Now... that doesn't sound that complicated really, does it? As they said in the old song, "Summertime- and the living is easy..."

And this IS living the life I am telling you!

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