(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.
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
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
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
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.
Serves 4 -
1 head of iceberg or 2 heads of romaine
¼ cup olive oil
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
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.
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