As you will hear me mention in today's podcast with John Shields and Henry Hong, this is probably the most popular dish I make in summer because, whenever I serve it to family or guests, it quickly disappears — "They inhale it" — and people want the recipe. Those are pretty good indicators that you've scored a hit. This is especially great to serve at a summer garden (salad) party, but should earn accolades anywhere.
Summer Carrot Salad Italiano
You will need carrots, garlic, lemon, capers and fresh parsley. You must be willing to chop a whole lemon (rind and all, but not the seeds) for this dish. Ingredients: Cooked carrots cut into discs, chopped garlic, parsley and whole lemon, olive oil, salt and drained capers.
I discovered this recipe 20 years ago, when Giuliano Bugialli visited my television show in Baltimore and gave samples to the studio audience. The recipe can be found in one of his books, "Bugialli's Italy," the companion book to his PBS series, (Morrow, 1998). But here it is, for your convenience, with a note from me about cooking the carrots.
2 pound carrots
1 medium-size lemon
15 sprigs Italian parsley, leaf only
2 large cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Boil the carrots with skin on in salted water for 10 minutes or so, depending on size. The carrots must be cooked, but not mushy and not under-cooked. Remove the skins under cold running water and cut the carrots into disks about a quarter-inch thick. (*Dan's note: You can do this the easy way: Peel the carrots, then boil them, then put them in ice water and cut into discs when they are cool.)
Cut the lemon into quarters and each quarter into very thin slices, skin and all. Then chop.
Coarsely chop the parsley and finely chop the garlic, then combine. Place the carrots, lemon slices and capers together in a large crockery or glass bowl. Add the olive oil and garlic mixture, salt and pepper to taste. Mix very well and transfer to a serving dish. Serve chilled or at room temperature with a few leaves of the parsley on each portion.
Summer Garden (Salad) Party
From John Shields of Gertrude's restaurant: "Put together a big bowl of salad greens, and mix with some arugula. If you’re feeling fancy, maybe even add a little shaved fennel. Then make a Build-Your-Own Salad buffet with some of these ingredients:
Grilled Salmon Fillets
Chopped, Steamed or Grilled Shrimp
Grilled Five-Spice Chicken Strips (recipe follows; this is great with a sesame dressing).
Cucumbers (plain or marinated)
Thinly sliced radishes
Cannellini beans or chickpeas
Cold succotash salad
Marinated green beans
Maybe a BLT section for a play on the classic sandwich (use hickory smoked bacon or pancetta)
Sherry wine vinaigrette (a classic)
Green Goddess style
FIVE SPICE CHICKEN MARINADE
1 cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup soy sauce
¼ cup Asian Fish Sauce
2 tablespoons Five Spice Blend
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced shallots
1 stick lemon grass, top and bottom cut off, crush middle of stalk and cut into pieces.
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
Whisk all the ingredients into a bowl. Lightly marinate chicken breasts with the five-spice marinade for at least three hours (overnight is even better), before grilling.
MARINATED ZUCCHINI (Zucchini "a scapece") from Giuliano Bugialli
6 medium-size zucchini
2 cups corn oil
1 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cloves garlic, peeled
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
20 fresh mint leaves
Soak the zucchini in a bowl of cold water for a half-hour. Remove and cut off the ends. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Cut the zucchini length-wise into one-quarter-inch thick slices. Cut each slice in half. Arrange on baking sheets and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the zucchini to paper towels and drain for 30 minutes.
Heat the oils together in a cast-iron pan or deep-fat fryer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels. When the oil mixture is hot, cook the zucchini slices two minutes on each side, until light brown. Transfer slices to the paper towel and drain. When all the slices are cooked, transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Finely chop the garlic and sprinkle over the zucchini. Pour the wine vinegar over all of the slices. Wrap the dish in foil and refrigerate for two hours. Remove it a half hour before you serve this dish to your guests. Distribute the mint leaves over the zucchini.