Tag Archives: Romaine

Antipasto Salad

Antipasto 002

I had the opportunity to visit Italy several years ago, and one thing I remember is that they made eating an event. There are potentially more courses in a menu than I could even begin to need, but the main eating seems to be the Antipasto course, followed by the Primo course- which is pasta, and then the Secundo course, which is meat based. It is easy to see where Antipasto got its name, coming before the pasta course.

Antipasto is typically cold dishes, and features meats, cheeses and vegetables. In the United States, we will typically have small plates of Salami or Pepperoni, Boconcini or Mozzarella, marinated Artichoke hearts, Olives, and Pepperoncini.

Rather than having multiple small dishes of different foods, this recipe suggests mixing the foods together in a salad. Let me be clear- this recipe is not a fixed specification like most recipes, but is just a starting point for ideas of what to include in an Antipasto Salad. You should add and subtract to make the salad your idea of what gives you the taste of Italy.

Antipasto Salad

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup fresh Basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 small head Romaine
  • 6 oz. roasted red peppers, drained and cut into strips
  • 8 oz. Pepperoncini, drained, and stemmed
  • 8 oz. marinated boconcini or mozzarella, cut into small chunks
  • 6 oz. sliced pepperoni or salami
  • 6 oz. marinated artichoke hearts, drained and halved (if whole)
  • 1 cup oil-cured black olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions

  • Combine the Basil leaves and vinegar in a food processor and process until smooth
  • Cut the Romaine into 1 inch pieces
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes
  • Best when served with a crusty bread


Just a suggestion: If you are going to include the pepperoncini, I would suggest cutting them into rings rather than leaving them whole. They are easier to eat as part of the salad, rather than picking them up by themselves.
Antipasto 008

Again, the above is just a suggestion and a hint of what you might like from the small antipasto dishes to go into your salad. Or you might even want to leave something out, like the pepperoncini if you don’t like the heat.

Caesar Salad

Caesar Salad 006
Caesar Salad was created in 1924 by Caesar Cardini, an Italian restaurateur in Tijuana, Mexico. Cardini was running low on food and he put together a salad for his guests from what was left over in the kitchen. Originally, the romaine leaves were coated with the dressing and placed on the plate stem end out so they could be picked up and eaten with the fingers. It wasn’t until years later that the romaine was cut into bite-size pieces.

There seem to be a lot of Caesar Salad recipes- many even claiming to be the original. I have used this one since back in the 1960s. And since becoming solo, I have worked on a way to make the recipe one serving at a time. But first the recipe:

Errol’s Caesar Salad

1 clove garlic, minced
2 oz. tin of anchovies, broken up
1/3 cup olive oil
1 raw egg
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper
2 heads of romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and torn into bite-sized pieces
1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
2 cups croutons

In the bottom of a large salad bowl, mix together the garlic, anchovies, olive oil, egg, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Add the romaine. Toss well to coat every leaf of romaine. Add the cheese and toss again to ensure all leaves get some cheese. Sprinkle the top with the croutons.

When we first started making Caesar Salad, it was partly as entertainment; I would make it at the table in front of our seated guests while Marlys finished up in the kitchen. In that case, you want all the ingredients measured out in small dishes that you can toss into the salad bowl and then using the salad tongs, toss the salad to make certain every leaf of romaine is coated. When we were entertaining, rather than use a minced garlic clove, I would cut a clove in half, and then rub the bottom of the salad bowl to squeeze the garlic oil out before adding the oil. I would lift the anchovies out of their tin, and using a dinner fork, break them up in the bottom of the salad bowl. I also broke the egg at the table and using the dinner fork, whip it into the oil. The lemon was cut in half and placed in a cloth napkin to be squeezed so that any seeds would not go into the salad.

Many people don’t like the idea that the salad has anchovies in it; if the anchovies are broken up into small enough pieces, they seem to disappear. Mix them in well with the dressing components before adding the romaine. This might also be where the use of Worcestershire sauce in the dressing became popular; it contains anchovies but also has a lot of other flavors like molasses and cloves. Personally, I like the anchovies, and they really are not noticeable after they are chopped.

For my single serving version, I make the full recipe of dressing except for the cheese. Then, I buy a package of romaine hearts; one heart will make two servings for me. I cut the heart vertically so that both servings will have the green end of the leaves and some stem end. I then chop the serving crosswise into bite-size pieces. I pour some of the dressing on the serving, sprinkle on the missing cheese, and some croutons.
Keep the extra dressing in the refrigerator- I like to keep mine in one of those dressing bottles so I can pour out what I need.

I make my own croutons. For a single serving, I toast a couple slices of bread. I butter the toast, and sprinkle it with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese and let them cool for a couple minutes. Then, I cut the crust off the toast and slice it into 9 to 12 square pieces. The croutons thus reflect the basic garlic and Parmesan flavors of the salad dressing.

I hope you find this version of Caesar Salad both simple to make, and enjoyable.

Errol