Did I mention that we’re going to Italy?
I mean, really…. We can drive to Italy (and Spain and Germany and Slovenia and Austria and….) We ought to go more often.
We decided we should go more often. It’s a long drive but there’s lots to see on the way and that’s all part of the fun.
So now I’m dreaming of Italian food. It’s been 6 years since we’ve eaten real Italian food and I can’t wait. There is so much more for me to learn.
In the meantime, here’s a salad that is perfect for hot weather / picnics / barbecues. Cook the polenta in the morning and finish just before serving.
The idea for this comes from a recipe for Italian Bread Salad. We so rarely have the type of bread needed for the salad (leftover) I decided to come up with my own version using polenta cubes
The cooking time assumes quick-cooking polenta. Polenta can vary between brands and types.
When making polenta for cooling and cooking again, either frying or on the grill, it’s important to get it very stiff. It should be hard to stir, and hold any shape you put it in when you are done cooking it – before chilling it. If it isn’t stiff enough, sprinkle another 1 – 2 tsp polenta per 1/4 cup on the cooked polenta and stir in, vigorously. If you need to cool it quickly set the metal or heat-proof pan in a bit of cold water to start, then put it in the fridge or freezer. If cooling quickly, don’t cover.p
Polenta, Tomato, Mozzarella Salad
Total time: 30 minutes divided
- 1 cup (8oz, 240ml) chicken stock
- 1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 tsp (1.7oz, 51gr) polenta, quick-cooking
- 8 dry-cured, Greek olives, pitted and cut in half
- 8 pimento-stuffed green olives, cut in half
- 10 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 10 small mozzarella balls, cut in half
- 1 tbs fresh snipped chives
- 2 tbs fresh snipped basil
- 1 tbs Balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbs plus 1 tsp salad olive oil
- Bring stock to boil in a small saucepan.
- Add polenta, whisking constantly.
- Turn heat down and cook about 5 minutes (or whatever your package tells you), stirring constantly. You may have to switch to a wooden spoon.
- When done remove from heat and pour into a small pan or baking dish lined with lightly oiled plastic wrap. You want the polenta to have a flat surface 1/2 – 3/4 inch (1.5 – 2cm) thick. I use a small, flat skillet with straight (vertical) sides. Smooth the top as flat as you can, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Can be made hours ahead, in the morning or the evening before.
- Put cherry tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and herbe into a salad bowl.
- Whisk together 1 tbs vinegar and 2 tbs oil. Add to bowl and stir to combine.
- Cut polenta into 1″ (2.5cm) squares or chunks.
- Heat 1 tsp oil in a nonstick skillet. Add polenta and fry until golden.
- Add polenta to bowl, mix gently and serve.
We’re going to Bologna and Verona.
The first and last time we were in Bologna was before we moved to this side of the pond. We stopped for a few days on the way to somewhere else (as usual, in those days). I remember loving the covered sidewalks and towers…. but I especially remember loving the food. Some say that Bologna has the best food in Italy.
The first and last time we were in Verona was shortly after we moved to this side of the pond. We were living in Andorra and had spent Christmas in Austria. Verona was a one-night stop on the way home. I remember the Roman amphitheater as being very impressive although we weren’t able to see much of it being winter and nighttime. I especially remember our hotel. I was stuck in the elevator by myself for 20 minutes while mon mari and son were having breakfast. The elevator was moving between floors and the doors were opening and closing. The problem was that it was stopping between floors rather than at floors. The doors would open, the floor would be level with my head and the people waiting to get on would wave to me. The doors would close and I would go on the the next stop.
Since it was all happening rather quickly there was no chance of escaping.
Since there was a lot of people on every floor and they all saw me, many times, I knew the proper technicians would be informed of my presence. They were and, eventually, coaxed the errant elevator to return to the ground floor, releasing me.
We used the stairs to return to our rooms.
I’m looking forward to returning to both cities.
It will be a 2-day drive there and back so we’re also looking forward to staying at French country house hotels – French food book-ending the Italian.
I love book-ends.