When we opened our restaurant in Brooklyn more than 13 years ago, I wanted a restaurant that reflected the food I grew up with in Florence. It was in fact a pretty traditional restaurant, for Italy that is, for New York, it was all new and adventurous.
The only exception to the very Tuscan menu was a whole page on salads. And though salads are always available in any restaurant throughout Italy, they are usually a side dish or a way to end the meal with cheese.
“Insalata” usually comes in two forms: green or mixed. If you are lucky, the green one will be a mix of wild lettuces, arugula and whatever else is in season, but it can also be a sad little dish of plain lettuce. The “insalata mista”, will be the same as above + grated carrots and tomatoes and sometimes corn… woohoo! All of it served with a condiment tray with olive oil, vinegar (not balsamic), salt and pepper.
In our restaurant, however, I wanted salads that would surprise you and flavor combinations that would wake up your palate or allow you to end the meal on a perfect light note. And so it was.
In my cookbook “The Challenged foodie” I dedicated a whole chapter chapter to my beloved salads.
So why not a simple post on my blog with just a salad? Salads are delicious, refreshing, filled with vitamins and minerals and gorgeous; so here it is.
SPRING SALAD WITH STRAWBERRIES
I used both “radicchio tardivo” a long sweeter version of radicchio and “radicchio di Calstelfranco” a gorgeous white and pink radicchio shaped like a butter lettuce but with a nice bitter flavor.
So for 4 people use one of each.
1 pint of strawberries (sweetest you can find to contrast the bitterness)
1 cup of peeled fava beans (the tiniest sweet ones can be left whole)
1 cup of loosely packed “finocchietto” or wild dill
1 cup young Tuscan pecorino cut into cubes
Olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper
Mix all in a nice bowl and voila.