Lettuce Salad 

(Insalata di Lattuga - ‘Nzalata ri Lattuca)

 

Salad can be a perfect start to a meal or it can even be a side dish served in concert with a meat or fish dinner. 

Leaf, Romaine, Butterhead, Crisphead, Iceberg, or any of the many varieties of lettuce makes a good salad.  

The scientific name of this crisp, green leaves vegetable is lactuca, lettuce, from the word lac, lactis meaning milk; in fact the leaves contain a small amount of a bitter-sweet, milky, opaque and creamy liquid.  

Salad is preferred for its ease of preparation, for the little time that it takes to make it, as well as its significant nutritional content; it contains a good amount of calcium, iron and some vitamins beneficial to our wellbeing.

 

              Romaine 

 

A recommendation for a good salad is that “it must be well salted, with a lot of oil and little vinegar”, in Sicilian “ assai ogliu e picca acitu”. 

In Sicily, lemons are the favorite ingredient to make salad dressing, however frequently lemon juice and a few drops of vinegar are used together to make with olive oil a perfect and balanced combination: the ideal dressing includes 3 parts of oil to 1 part of vinegar or lemon juice. 

                        

When I came to the United Stated from Palermo, the first salad that I consumed was a salad made with a moist and crunchy lettuce, called iceberg lettuce.  

This round tight head lettuce is packed with crispy, green leaves; it needs only an effortless rinsing to eliminate any existing sand, it has a mild and bitter-sweet taste and combines well with a simple salad dressing made with salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar and a hint of lemon juice. 

 

 

At Joe of Avenue “U”, La Focacceria Palermitana, we served iceberg lettuce dressed with Colavita olive oil, salt, pepper, some vinegar and a few drops of lemon juice: our customers liked this simple salad for the pungent bitter-sweet taste and the aroma. 

 

To make a colorful and attractive ‘nzalata’, with extra texture and flavors, combine the iceberg or any other types of lettuce with green vegetables, radicchio, escarole, cucumbers, onions, carrots or tomatoes, and drizzle it with the simple recommended dressing; however keep it as simple as possible. 

It is very important to dry the leaves in a salad spinner or on clean kitchen towels, after rinsing with cold water; and it is essential to mix the salad well in order to blend the flavors of the dressing into the greens. 

If you are not going to serve the salad right away, keep it refrigerated and add the dressing at the last moment, before serving it. 

 

                                         Mixed Salad

 

Serves 4 - 6 

Ingredients 

·        1 head of iceberg or 2 heads of romaine lettuce 

·        ¼ cup olive oil  

·        2 teaspoons vinegar  

·        1 teaspoon lemon juice 

·        Salt and pepper to taste  

 

PREPARATION 

 

The Lettuce 

Discard outer leaves, remove core and rinse lettuce under running cold water. 

Dry the leaves in a salad spinner or with a clean kitchen towels. 

 

The Salad 

 

Break the lettuce with your hand or cut into bite size chunks. 

Place in a large bowl and pour over the oil, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  

Toss it thoroughly for a few minutes, to combine the crispy and crunchy bitter-sweetness of these leaves, to the flavor of the olive oil, the acidity of the vinegar, the tanginess of the lemon juice, the fragrance of the pepper and to the balancing taste of the salt.