By Abbie D’Errico
I have to confess, when I first ordered a salad at a restaurant in Ialy (don’t fret it came with my plate of rich starchy pasta!), I was not expecting a bottle of balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil to come along side it. I’m used to a bottle of Italian dressing or requesting some vinegarette. Now, I wasn’t naive enough to believe that the “Italian” food served in the USA was the real deal authentic all the time. But, how was I supposed to know what existed in Italy and what didn’t, I had never stepped foot in Europe before.
Well let me clarify, salad dressing (the way it’s presented in the US) doesn’t make an appearance often in Italy. A salad is usually accompanied by a balsamic vinegar and olive oil, maybe some salt and pepper but regardless, it is a “do it yourself” process. I gave it a fair try, the oil and balsamic, but it just wasn’t working for me. For the longest time, I avoided salads altogether because I was ashamed of not liking the Italian way. Now mind, I’m not the greatest at eating my vegetables, sorry mom! Also, probably why I am only 5’5″ tall. Salads were always my go to source for veggies. As my money dwindled and I started eating pasta for every meal, I knew I had to get back on the veggie train.
I slowly started making salads at home with a recipe my friend used to make back in high school.
– Ham, salt, pepper, hard boiled eggs and lemon
However, the acidity became too much and it was an acquired taste to begin with. I even liked the salad when I stayed with a family in Sicily, which was oil and vinegar. But when I did it myself or got it at a restaurant it flopped. It wasn’t until I returned to Italy and settled myself inFlorence that I finally found a dressing combo that was good for me.
Make your regular salad
– Lettuce, tomatoes, carrots, cucumber, meat, cheese, and whatever extras you love, add in balsamic but cut out the oil (you just don’t need it!)
The secret I was let in on is…PESTO!
Add a little scoop to your bowl of veggies! You can even use it as a dip.
This will help contrast the massive amounts of pasta that you will be consuming.
And if you’re prepping for Summer and your trip to the Amalfi Coast, this will definitely come in handy!