December 31, 2010

Pigs, cows and lettuce

This week, we returned from Nonna’s full, exhausted and ready to embrace vegetarianism for the next month. I think we ate our way through at least two pigs and an entire cow last week. It was delicious. Nonna sent me home with more of that special sausage, a piece of great grandma’s fruitcake (fruitcake that took us half a day to make and somehow didn’t make it to the table on Christmas...the best laid plans), and a beautiful chunk of salt pork.  But right now all Tom and I want to eat are vegetables.

My mother did her best to get green, leafy food into us. She cooked up some escarole and put it in our soup when she didn’t think we were looking, and everyday without fail she diligently dressed up a salad to serve with dinner. But you try convincing twenty hungry Italians that what they really want in between the raviolis, meatballs, braciole, spiedini, veal, stuffed mushrooms and cannolis, is salad. Her determination was admirable, her success rate, marginal at best. 

We give my poor mother such a hard time about her salads. The lady fusses more over mixed greens than most people do over a roast chicken. The final result is always well worth it, and maybe if we did eat a little more salad and a little less spiedini we wouldn’t need to resort to such drastic measures as vegetarianism… On second thought, less spiedini? NEVER.

But since we are back home and neither pig nor cow are anywhere to be seen, tonight we will kick 2010 out the door over a nice plate of salad.

Orange and Fennel Salad

This salad is not only scrumptious; it’s also very pretty. It has a lovely crunch from the fennel and a surprise of flavor from each and every one of those little pomegranate seeds. Don’t be afraid of chopping the pomegranate in half and deseeding the whole thing. Also, if you don’t share my obsession with all things fig, regular balsamic vinegar is completely fine.

1-2 hearts of Romaine lettuce, chopped
Half a bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
1 orange, thinly sliced into pinwheels
Pomegranate seeds (as many as you like)


Extra virgin olive oil, 6 TBLS
Fig balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp
Juice from half of an orange
Salt and pepper to taste

Assemble the lettuce, fennel, orange and pomegrante seeds.

Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and juice. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss the vinaigrette with the salad, using as much or as little as you want.


  1. Ah, glad to see a salad. We, too, enjoyed a little too much the goodness of meats, and cheese, and STRUFOLI. I'll be sure to throw a pomegranate into my shopping cart today.

  2. Sandy, we missed your strufoli this year! I hope you enjoyed a wonderful holiday.

  3. But as a friend of mine would say ... but it has green stuff in it!