Going Verde

April 12, 2010

The “going green” movement is nothing new to Italians who, with even a meager patch of earth at their disposal, can grown an abundance of fresh vegetables, herbs, flowers and fruits.

City dwellers are not deterred in this effort either. They resort to terra-cotta containers crammed together on apartment balconies arranged among red geraniums and purple bougainvillea.

Some of the more familiar plants are pomodori (tomatoes), lattuga (lettuce), cicoria (bitter greens), zucca (squash), mentuccia (mint), basilico (basil), and fagiolini (green beans).

Serving green salad (insalata verde) and mixed salads (insalata mista) have always been an end of the meal course, a digestivo. Marinated vegetable salads are usually served as part of an antipasto. To keep a green salad interesting, use a variety of lettuces including crunchy romaine, peppery arugula and bitter escarole. The traditional dressing for salad has always been extra-virgin olive oil and a good quality red wine vinegar.

So, go green this spring and summer and plant a salad bowl full of greens; you‘ll do yourself some good and terra madre (mother earth) too.

Insalata Verde
Green Salad

Serves 4

2 cups torn romaine lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1 cup torn arugula leaves, washed and dried
1 cup torn escarole leaves, washed and dried
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Fine sea salt to taste

Beans with Mint
Fagiolini alla Menta

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup minced fresh mint
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano or 1/2 teaspoon dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound tender green beans

In a 9-X-12-inch glass dish, whisk all the dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

Trim the beans. Put them in a large pot and add cold water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook just until a small knife easily pierces the beans. They hould still have a little bite to them.

Drain, and immediately add the beans to the dressing. Toss well to coat them, cover and allow the beans to marinate several hours at room temperature beofore serving them.

Even more salad recipes are available at ciaoitalia.com.

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