Fresh and bright insalate show off spring vegetables in style.
Fresh and bright insalate show off spring produce.
When it comes to Italian food, we’re more likely to think of pizza and pasta than salad. But insalate are an essential part of Italian cuisine, be it panzanella, Caprese or the classic rocket and parmesan combo.
Spring vegetables are ideal raw – slice them thinly, toss them in a flavourful dressing and leave them for a few minutes to soften a little. Add heft with legumes or slivers of raw fish. Dandelion leaves, an Italian favourite for their pleasantly bitter flavour, are in season now, and can be bought at farmers’ markets and specialist grocers; wild rocket makes a good substitute.
As for dressings, the simpler the better. Extra-virgin olive oil (the best you can afford) is non-negotiable, while citrus juices add perfect acidity. Salad days are here.
Kingfish crudo with white beans, fennel and blood-orange dressing SERVES 4 AS A LIGHT MEAL // PREP TIME 15 MINS
Using canned white beans makes this dish super-quick to whip up, but if you have the time to soak dried white beans a day ahead by all means do so. If the beetroot have any small, tender leaves, toss them in the salad, too, and give the fish a quick toss in the pan or sear it on the grill if you’d oprefer to eat it cooked.
2 blood oranges, peeled
800 gm canned white beans,
drained and rinsed
200 gm sashimi-grade kingfish,
2 baby fennel bulbs, shaved on a mandolin and crisped in iced water, fronds reserved
¼ Spanish onion, thinly sliced Juice of ½ lemon, or to taste
1 garlic clove, finely grated 70 ml extra-virgin olive oil 2 beetroot, trimmed, peeled and cut into julienne, small leaves reserved
1 Segment the blood oranges over a bowl to catch the juices. Remove the segments from the membrane and transfer them to a separate bowl. Add beans, kingfish, drained fennel and onion, season to taste, toss to combine and transfer to a serving platter.
2 Add lemon juice and garlic to the orange juice and stand to soften (4-5 minutes), then whisk in the oil and season to taste. Drizzle dressing over salad, toss to combine and serve scattered with beetroot, beetroot leaves and fennel fronds.
Insalata primavera SERVES 4 // PREP TIME 15 MINS
Use any combination of spring vegetables in this salad, but aim for a contrast of flavours and textures. New-season broad beans are generally small and tender, meaning they can be served raw. If yours are on the large side, blanch and refresh them before peeling. 3 bunches asparagus, trimmed and thinly sliced lengthways on a mandoline 3 zucchini, thinly sliced
lengthways on a mandoline 300 gm small podded broad beans (about 600gm unpodded), shelled
2 spring onions, thinly sliced 1½ cups (loosely packed)
young dandelion leaves ¾ cup mint
100 ml extra-virgin olive oil ⅓ cup finely chopped mint Juice of 1 lemon, or to taste 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 For mint dressing, mix ingredients in a bowl and season to taste.
2 Combine asparagus, zucchini, broad beans and spring onion in a large bowl, drizzle with mint dressing to taste and toss lightly to combine. Scatter with dandelion and mint, drizzle with extra dressing and serve.
No broad beans? Peas at their peak are even better. Kingfish crudo & insalata primavera White plate (crudo) and shallow bowl (insalata primavera) both from Città. All other props stylist’s own. Stockists p175.