insalata di carne – beef salad

Just saying the words “beef salad” makes me feel better about the world, or at least better about salad. When I was a kid, the Sunday evening salad was possibly the meal that depressed me most. Sunday afternoon was depressing enough anyway, but finishing it off with limp lettuce, ice-cold flavour-free tomatoes and salad cream struck me as adding insult to injury, like having Vogon poetry read to you before being flung out of a Continue Reading →

pane a caponata – sicilian bread salad

Before we start, no, this is not the same as the by now ubiquitous Tuscan panzanella. There are some crucial differences. For starters, although this is a perfect way to use up leftover bread, it is also good enough to merit buying a decent loaf on purpose. Panzanella quite frankly isn’t. Above all, here the bread is toasted and left in chunks, adding not only extra texture, but extra flavour. This detail also puts it Continue Reading →

insalata strombolana – stromboli salad

I have a deep, enduring love for capers. As soon as the weather warms up (in other words, now!), I’ll pull them out of the store cupboard and start adding them to salads, pasta and fish dishes. Capers for me, like apricots, olives and chilli peppers, are an essential foodstuff. Their salty, floral, aromatic kick is addictive, like kissing lips still wet from the sea… Olives and chillis I can (and do) grow myself, but Continue Reading →

fresh tuna salad – insalata di tonno fresco

What I really needed yesterday evening was a steaming, hot beef stew. But of course, that would have meant, amongst other things, planning slightly ahead, at least slightly enough ahead to slip to the butcher’s in the morning and stock up on stewing steak. Before you ask why, having missed my morning window of opportunity, I didn’t just buy some meat in the afternoon, I should tell you that butchers here only open in the Continue Reading →

insalata di arance e finocchio – orange and fennel salad

A classic winter salad here in Sicily, when fennel and oranges are at their best. It’s even better when made with blood oranges, but for those I’ll have to wait until later in the season… Fennel and orange is the basic version, although I like to add capers and red onion (in this case, I used the sweet, mild onions from Tropea, across the Straits in Calabria) and sometimes small black olives, not to mention Continue Reading →

insalata di polipo – octopus salad

Before coming to Italy I’d only ever eaten octopus once, in Rhodes. I can still visualize the plate in front of me to this day. It is a source of constant amazement, not to mention concern, to my wife that I can recall not only dishes, but entire meals I ate years ago. Anyway, in this case I feel justified, since the Rhodian octopus was one of those defining moments in my love story with Continue Reading →