Thursday, March 13, 2008

A simple, warm salad - potatoes and more

A few vegetables in the fridge, a desire for something simple - no spices, just straightforward, healthy ingredients. I thought up a novel combination (novel for me at least) to create a warm salad as a "piatto unico", one main dish: cavolo nero just about to go but still good enough; lovely, organic new potatoes; crunchy organic carrots. There were black Gaeta olives; the old Sicilian capers faithfully sitting in the big glass jar; and untreated lemons from Sorrento, deformed and beautiful, with the leaves still on.

And so: I put some water to boil, grossly chopped and washed the cavolo nero, sauteed it in the wok in olio-aglio-peperoncino (oil-garlic-chili), salted the boiling water and threw in the halved or quartered potatoes along with the peeled, whole carrots; as these all cooked, I added some of the cooking water to the cavolo nero, which continued shrinking but preserved its agreeably deep green colour. I took a large fistful of capers, another of olives, rinsed all of those in cold water to shake off some of the intense saltiness; chopped them. Wok flame off. Exeunt the carrots, sliced into half cm roundels, deposited in the wok; exeunt the potatoes, from the saucepan into the wok to join green and orange, stirred gently; capers and olives stirred in turn. The mix thrown into a large bowl, lemon juice and Sicilian olive oil poured over it; and I added some rind off the gorgeous Sorrento lemons, along with freshly ground black pepper.

I thought of adding a touch of Moroccan preserved lemon, to add extra bite; next time. Tonight the dish worked as it was - it is pretty, satisfying, balanced, healthy, simple and rather delicious. We also had a bit of cheese - a fresh Sardinian pecorino, a creamy Emilian cow's milk cheese - and a pleasant though overall mediocre Salento wine. Rustic homey meal to end a spring-like day in Bologna.