Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Recipe Tuesday: Bass lines and Basil

In true Vanilla Ice fashion, I have ripped off a recipe from one of my favorite Queens (of Food Network). Giada De Laurentiis served this salad on one of her shows and I was mesmerized. I think she coupled it with some herbed polenta, pork roast and hazelnut brittle. She makes everything look fancy! While she made that hazelnut brittle, all I could think about was my grandfather gnawing on a hunk of homemade peanut brittle, in his shorts, undershirt, suspenders and slippers on the front porch of his log cabin. I never knew you could make such a down home treat so FANCY!

I digress, though. She made a salad...Insalata Mista...which looked amazing. I had to make it! A friend and I hosted a wine party for our friends and decided to make a few gourmet dishes to serve with the delectable assortment of wine (...that we purchased at the grocery store, of course!). I decided to make the Insalata Mista.

During the course of food preparation, I think I was bombarded with a few celebratory shots of whiskey from another friend (He's from Kentucky and loves toasting shots of his native land's drink...I couldn't say no!), and roommate of my co-host, so my judgment was skewed slightly. I flubbed up the recipe just a tad but it is my steadfast belief that my tipsy mistake made all the difference!

Once I finished creating this vegetable masterpiece, I walked it outside to our patio party and waited for people to devour it. Sadly, people were in the mood for finger foods and not salad, and it was left untouched for much of the evening. I decided that my poor salad need to be AT LEAST tried, and so I plunged my fork into the big bowl and gave it a go. To my delight, it was the most delicious salad I've ever eaten. I slyly moved the bowl closer and proceeded to eat most of it, without my party guests knowing a thing.

Here is my recipe for Insalata Mista, the down home buzzed-on-whiskey version.

Insalata Mista
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 8 cups arugula
  • 1 carrot, peeled
  • 1 hothouse cucumber, peeled
  • 1 small (~7oz.) jar roasted red peppers
Blend the basil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a blender. With the machine running, gradually blend in the oil.

Place the arugula in a wide shallow bowl. Using a vegetable peeler (we call them potato peelers down yonder), shave the carrot over the salad. Remove the outermost layer of cucumber skin and then shave it into the bowl as well. I find that shaving the carrots and cucumbers into shorter lengths (2-3") is easiest to eat.

Drain the excess oil from the jar of roasted red peppers and slice them into relatively bite-size pieces. Toss on top of the salad.

Toss the salad with enough dressing to coat. Season the salad, to taste, with salt and pepper, and serve immediately.

NOTE: The vinaigrette and salad can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover separately and refrigerate. Whisk the dressing to blend before using.

FOR ALL OF MY FARM MARKET SHOPPING FRIENDS: Fill those last few days of fresh-off-the-farm basil with this delicious vinaigrette...it's really never better than right now!


  1. Uh... salad isn't finger food? It is for me sometimes, especially when I get a few wines in me ;-)

    P.S. Do you want my CSA share this weekend?

  2. Yum. Yeah... I think I'll be making this tomorrow.


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