Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Last Saturday was one of those capricious weather days of San Francisco; it started rainy and dreary, but ended sunny and blue. When I awoke that morning, I had a sick husband in bed, a paper to edit, and the aforementioned rain endlessly pounding on the skylight. It didn't seem like an auspicious start to the day.

By lunchtime, however, things were looking up. B was out of bed, though still coughing every time he took a deep breath (and sometimes coughing just spontaneously). The paper was edited (one draft, at least), and I'd started on a long list of chores for the day: laundry, straightening up the house, picking up the dry-cleaning, grocery shopping, and making the peppermint meringues for an ultimately disappointing cake. I'd also fixed a nice brunch for me and B, with cheese scones and an insalata tricolore. He was well enough to partake by that time, downing four scones without a problem.

The scones I've already told you about, and they were as good as usual, so today I want to tell you about the insalata tricolore. This devastatingly simple salad is complex and delicious. The salad items are awfully patriotic (if you're Italian, that is), with appearances by each of the three colors of the Italian flag (green arugula, white Belgian endive, and red radicchio).

And by arugula, I mean rocket. Rocket! Isn't that a funny name for a salad green? I lived in England for a year right after college, and besides drinking a little bit too much and rowing intramural crew and meeting lots of new people from around the world, I immersed myself in British vocabulary. I of course learned the standards: boot, lorry, lift, jumper. But what I found most poetic were the British names for vegetables. Rocket I've mentioned, but did you know that zucchini are called courgettes? Or that eggplant is known as aubergine? I like eggplant now, but I despised its slimy nature and numerous seeds when I was younger; my dad swears, however, that if eggplant had been known as the more romantic, mellifluous "aubergine" in our house, I would have grown up liking it. Too bad we'll never know, since the names aubergine and rocket are pretty much confined to the other side of the Atlantic.

The rocket salad, if you will, is inspired by one at Pizzeria Delfina, a restaurant I very much enjoy (and which has previously provided inspiration for posts on this blog). There are only two differences that I can detect between their salad and mine. First, their chefs have perhaps better knife skills than I do (and perhaps more patience), and the radicchio and endive are sliced into very fine ribbons. Second, the salad components are served separated by color, making the flag resemblance even stronger, before being all tossed together.

The salad works really well at dinner, with pasta or panini, and I know now that it makes a great brunch with cheese scones. It's tangy from the lemon in the dressing, and flavorful from the slightly bitter greens and salty Parmesan. By later in the day Saturday, the sky had turned blue with flecks of cumulus clouds, B's cough was at least partially controlled by Ricola, and our bellies were full of hearty cheese scones and lighter insalata tricolore. Enjoy!

Insalata Tricolore
Inspired by Pizzeria Delfina

Time: 10 min active and total
Serves: 2

2 cups arugula
1 head Belgian endive, ends discarded and thinly sliced crosswise
1/4 head radicchio, cored and thinly sliced
juice from half of a lemon
2 T. olive oil
1/4 t. salt, or more to taste
1/4 t. dried oregano (optional)
Parmesan shavings

Add arugula, endive, and radicchio to a salad bowl. In a small jar, mix together lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and oregano (if using); cover, and shake vigorously to emulsify. Dress salad with lemon juice mixture, and toss. Top with Parmesan shavings for serving.


  1. Sounds good. We're helping with food for an Italian-themed dinner party on Saturday, so I'll try your salad (and the Spicy Roasted Cauliflower as well). Also, if you're going to be writing any more posts this week, some more Italian recipes will be appreciated! ;)

  2. Let me know how they turn out! In the next day or two, I'm going to post a Valentine's Day special, which isn't exactly Italian-inspired...