Recipe: A Great Salad from Lipari

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Salad LipariPosted by Lisa Simpson

There’s a familiar list of what is so great about summer, but I’ll just cut to the chase: The best thing about summer is the food. I can’t get enough of the weekly kaleidoscope at the farmer’s markets, and I can’t get enough tomatoes and fruit in my belly to begin to satisfy the long dark hunger of winter. When I see the first Eastern Washington tomatoes arrive in Seattle, I am like a bird dog pointing out unsuspecting grouse. Usually arugula arrives at the same time, like a happy coincidence.

I am always fascinated by the slow drag of early spring that jumps into the full explosion of summer and then the quick dwindle of the season, back to the Sisyphean task of winter. At this time of the year I’m always convinced I’m missing something, a feeling that there is a big party going on and I’m totally oblivious to it- somewhere there is something delicious and ripe and I’m missing it. I just noticed, only this morning, that my raspberries (callously stomped and slept upon by heartless deer last summer and given up for dead) have a burst of fruit on their crushed little limbs. I’m heading out with a bowl as soon as I finish this.
Nothing, to me, is more evocative of the season than salad. Jeffrey Steingarten wrote that anyone that eats salad more than twice a week is a salad abuser. Maybe I’d agree with that in January, but today? Why the heck aren’t you taking advantage of those succulent nibbly little lettuces and stuffing some in your mouth? Not eating greens in July- That is salad abuse.
Here’s my favorite July Salad, cobbled together from a memorable lunch on a rainy vacation day in Italy.

That One Salad from Lipari

Butter lettuce wasn’t in the original salad, but the contrast of the soft leaves with the slight bite of arugula adds a nice layer of flavor. If you can find the soft, fresh kind in brine known as Bufala, give it a try. A high-quality, flavorful olive oil and balsamic truly elevates an dressing. Good balsamic also makes a good dipping sauce. The tinned tuna you use to mix with mayo for sandwiches isn’t what I’m talking about in this dish. Look for a quality imported tuna packed in olive oil from locales such as Spain; often you’ll find it sold in small jars. It will cost more, but it’s the heart of this dish so give it a try.

2 cups of arugula (aka ‘rocket’)
1 small head butter lettuce 
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced 
8 ounces (about two cups) ripe tomatoes
About 6 ounces good quality mozzarella 
1 tablespoon quality olive oil
1 teaspoon quality balsamic vinegar
1 6 oz. tin or jar of imported tuna
Sea salt and ground coarse pepper

Cut everything into bite-sized pieces, toss with oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Eat that good stuff up, preferably outside with a nice glass of lightly chilled pinot grigio. Practice the art of doing nothing, an Italian specialty and one of the reasons why Italians seem to enjoy life more than Americans.

About katflinn

Kathleen Flinn is the author of "The Sharper Your Knife, the Less You Cry," "The Kitchen Counter Cooking School" and "Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good." All are published by Viking/Penguin.

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