The 50 Best Salad Recipes by [download popular books]

  • Full Title : The 50 Best Salad Recipes: Tasty, fresh, and easy to make!
  • Autor: 
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Adams Media
  • Publication Date: November 1, 2011
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: B0062ACQF4
  • ISBN-13: 
  • Download File Format: epub


They’re fast. They’re flavorful. And they’re right at your fingertips. The 50 Best Salad Recipes is a fresh selection of new ways to fill your salad bowl. From Apricot Chicken Salad to Peppery Pineapple Salad, there’s plenty included so you can whip up satisfying and tasty snacks and meals. Enjoy!




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• Choose sea salt for seasoning and table salt for boiling pasta or vegetables. I prefer Maldon sea salt. Pepper should always be freshly ground; I use Parameswaran’s Special Wynad black pepper.

• Like most southern-Italian cooks, I dry my own supply of ‘peperoncini’ (hot red chillies). For the recipes in this book, I suggest you buy whole dried chillies and crush the amount you prefer into your dishes. Use according to your tastes; dishes should have a heat but not be overpoweringly spicy. Mexican or South American chillies have a completely different flavour.

• ‘Soffritto’ (an Italian culinary term translated as ‘to suffer’) refers to the root of many Italian recipes, which is a base of flavour made up of extra virgin olive oil with a combination of some or all of the following: garlic, peperoncini, onion, celery, carrot, parsley. Depending on the flavour required the ingredients will be finely chopped, sliced or whole. The simple rule is always they should be slowly cooked in the oil with a gentle heat and never allowed to burn.

• ‘Sugo’ is the Italian term for a pasta sauce, often tomato-based.

Open for business

I AM AT my happiest when I am cooking for family and friends – a pot of my favourite sugo (a tomato sauce for pasta) simmering on the stove, the table set for supper and a bottle of wine open, ready to pour. My kitchen at home is warm and welcoming and my greatest pleasure is preparing food there, the more the better. I have cooked since I was very young – growing up as the third-oldest in an Italian family of eight children I had no option – and I cook from the recipes I have learned from my mother, mother-in-law and my grandmothers.

The dishes I cook follow the traditions, rituals and feasts of the Catholic calendar, and are in turn inextricably linked to the seasons and harvests of the south of Italy and use the natural ingredients it produces. Although strict abstinence such as ‘no fish on Friday’ has fallen by the wayside, some traditions are so ingrained in my family they may never change. Baccalà, salt cod, on Good Friday and roast abbacchio, milk-fed lamb, on Easter Day are sacrosanct, as are big family picnics on 15 August, Ferragosto, whether it is raining or not. I cook pasta in exactly the same way as when I was young and our favourite dishes have the tastes I remember from my childhood.

At our family shop, Valvona & Crolla, the same seasonality dictates our work. For over four generations we have been supplying goods imported from Italy and sourced from Scotland from small families who have grown up and developed alongside our company. And to our many customers who have known and loved our shop, it is those very smells of Italian cooking, coffee simmering and ripe cheeses mingling with salty hams and salamis that evoke the feeling of familiarity and trust they associate with Valvona & Crolla.

Things change, of course. Each generation of the family has reacted to circumstances and steered the business through good times and bad, making decisions and taking risks that have taken the company forward and left their mark. The company was started by Alfonso Crolla, my husband’s grandfather, an immigrant shepherd from the south of Italy, who in 1934 took a share in a wholesale continental food importer called R. Valvona. Within two years he had moved the business to its present premises, a tall, narrow shop in an unassuming street at the top of Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Not long afterwards Valvona himself opted out of the business. Then, tragically, in 1940, when Italy declared war on Britain, Alfonso and his immigrant compatriots became enemy aliens and he lost his life on the Arandora Star as he and countless other Italian immigrants were being transported to Canada.

After the war, Alfonso’s sons, Victor and Dominic, took over the running of the business and with their new brother-in-law, Carlo Contini, they built up a thriving trade serving the local Italian community and the returning British soldiers and officers who had experienced the joys of Italy during the war for the first time. The shop became a haven for anyone nostalgic for Italy, or wanting exotic produce and freshly roasted coffee served with a healthy dose of Italian charm.

In the early 1980s when Carlo’s son Philip Contini took over the shop, change was afoot in the market. The new, exciting, one-stop supermarkets were starting their journey to food dominance and the survival of small, specialist food shops was under threat. Philip decided to source all our food direct from the producer and, sensing Italy’s desire to expand its wine exports beyond domestic shores, moved to supply top-quality Italian wine. Gradually Valvona & Crolla gained a name for sourcing the best of everything it offered its customers. These were exciting times.

When, in 1995, we opened a small Caffè Bar at the back of the shop we were able to share our home cooking with our customers for the first time and prepare for them the recipes that we had learned from our families, handed down through the generations by word of mouth. Our customers loved it!

We still cook fresh food daily in the Caffè Bar, made from the best local and imported ingredients. Today we import fruit and vegetables from Italy, but more and more we find that what we need to have close at hand are the local smallholdings and farms that surround the city of Edinburgh. Fresh meat and fish of excellent quality are abundant in Scotland, and with seasonal produce delivered straight to our door our customers can eat the dishes in the Caffè then buy the fresh ingredients they need to cook them at home.

We have also had the pleasure and privilege of meeting many talented cooks and food writers, wine and cheese producers who have talked about their produce and shared tips and ideas with us, resulting in a whole new collection of recipes which we enjoy both in the Caffè and at home.

There has never been a better time to cook. Fresh local ingredients have never been so widely available; seasonal produce is abundant in farmers’ markets and for you, the cook, the producer has never been more accessible. Preparing food from an Italian kitchen can be frugal and healthy or exotic and indulgent – the mood and the choice is yours. All I recommend is that you choose the best ingredients you can find, use fresh, locally grown vegetables and judge using your own palate – taste as you cook. I do hope you enjoy making and sharing these recipes with your own family and friends.

Buon appetito!



Winter minestrone with green vegetables and spelt

Lentil soup with smoked ham hock


Cream of chestnut soup with smoked pancetta

Millerighe pasta with oxtail sugo

Tomato and smoked pancetta sugo

Home-made gnocchi

Roasted aubergine gnocchi with butter and sage sauce

Home-made pasta

Square ravioli filled with buffalo ricotta and mint


Grilled lobster

Lobster salad

Chargrilled radicchio di Treviso

Winter leaf salad

Fennel, radish and Camone tomato salad

Radicchio and robiola salad with walnuts

Risotto with spicy sausage, fontina and griddled radicchio

Flash-cooked slices of beef

Stuffed beef slices in tomato sugo

The branding of Valvona & Crolla

Pan-fried herbed and marinated chicken thighs

Polenta with branzi cheese

Water, water everywhere

Pan-roasted quail

Food, flirting and fun

Grilled marinated wild boar loin chops

Castelfranco lettuce griddled with taleggio and pancetta

Purple sprouting broccoli

Oven-baked chops

Salt cod with chickpeas and potatoes

Roasted winter vegetables

Broccoli with spicy sausage

Roasted garlic

Mixed greens with garlic

Sea kale with grated pecorino

Neapolitan-style frisée

Pizza stuffed with frisée, anchovies, olives and pine nuts

Gratin of fennel with Parmigiano Reggiano


Stuffed artichokes

Fried artichokes and green sauce with walnuts

Frittata with grated courgettes, mozzarella and basil

Frittata with pecorino

Sauté potatoes and Jerusalem artichokes


Blood orange salad

Oranges and lemons


Orange cake with Marsala mascarpone

Burnt orange brûlée


Lemon ricotta cake

Chestnut semifreddo with burnt orange syrup

Persimmon sorbet

Pomegranate sorbet

IT IS WITH great anticipation that my husband Philip and I, with our teenage daughter, board our flight on 1 January, off to join in the continuing New Year celebrations in Rome. Christmas in Italy extends right through to La Befana (Epiphany) on 6 January, so when we arrive tired but exhilarated late on New Year’s Day, the festivities are still in full swing. How easy to slip into party mode, and where better than Rome? In a lovely old hotel just a stone’s throw from the Spanish Steps we unpack our bags. Then, leaving the cares and exhaustion of business behind us, we spill out into the throngs that parade up and down the Via del Corso late into the night.

Rome over New Year is buzzing. Long, narrow streets are decked with sparkling lights and gaudy garlands. Every corner turned reveals more elaborate decorations, more stunning displays. New Year tradition in Rome sees locals opening their windows and throwing out unwanted household articles – old beds, pictures of former lovers, anything. A great commotion ensues; good-natured hilarity pervades the air.

Tiny alleyways strung with garlands of sparkling stars give way to famous piazzas full of jostling and joyous people being entertained by itinerant musicians, mime artists and street theatre. Strega Nonna, the grandmother witch who brings gifts to children on the Epiphany, sits menacingly in a sleigh harnessed to moth-eaten, life-sized stuffed reindeer, and cackles to designer-clad children who line up to be terrified and excited in anticipation of gifts and treats.

Piazza Navona is transformed into a fairground, with rides and shows and food stalls piled high with fantastic-looking sweets: struffoli, tiny fried dough balls dipped in honey and sprinkled garishly with hundreds and thousands; torrone, hard nougat studded with almonds, pistachios and chocolate and piled high like bricks in a builder’s yard; glossy slabs of nut brittle; gaudy pink, blue and green candyfloss; Nutella-smeared crêpes; giant toffee apples. Appetising smells fill the air: hot chestnuts roasting over wood-burning braziers and boiling peri’o’mus, white wrinkled slabs of tripe, prepared by Neapolitans and eaten in the street with salt and olive oil, just as we would eat fish and chips.

It is as if all of Italy converges on Rome; dialects are heard from all over the land – Sicilian, Neapolitan, Venetian and Florentine. Large family groups, with four and five generations shouting and laughing, are strolling together, eating and singing and celebrating the end of the past year.

And, of course, the Baby Jesus is fêted and celebrated everywhere you turn. Larger than life-sized cribs with a full cast of leading characters are displayed in every available space: churches have cribs inside, outside, on the altar, in the crypt. Halfway up the Spanish Steps a ‘little town of Bethlehem’ is on view, complete with harassed innkeepers, guilty despots, majestic angels and ox and ass. Windowsills, doorways and shop windows all exhibit something acknowledging the birth of Christ. The most impressive is at ‘head office’, in Piazza San Pietro, in front of the Vatican, where you’ll find the biggest, most magnificent display of all – the crib of cribs.

If we are organised and book ahead, our first meal is enjoyed in Sora Lella, a small family-run ristorante on the Isola Tiberina, which is also home to an ancient church, San Bartolomeo, and Rome’s main hospital. ‘You can’t go wrong!’ as my father would say. The restaurant is run by two brothers, sons of Elena, the original owner and an exceptional cook who was the youngest sister of a famous Roman film star in the 1950s, the era of La Dolce Vita. The taller, thinner brother is the chef-patron, who prepares a traditional Roman menu, typical of our own home cooking: Gnocchi all’amatriciana, Rigatoni con sugo di coda alla vaccinara, Polpettini alla nonna, Pasta e fagioli. The second brother acts as maître d’ and holds court front of house. Jovial and enthusiastic, he describes each dish with such joy that you can almost taste the flavours as he talks.

Rome has an abundant choice of trattorie and restaurants, some wonderful, authentic and full of locals, others tourist traps, expensive and disappointing. They say the best trick in Rome is to follow a priest at lunchtime and you will always eat well. I must admit that we have often put this to the test and have always been lucky. The best abbacchio (spring lamb) I have ever eaten has been in an unassuming trattoria behind the Vatican, which from noon until well after three is full to bursting with happy, hungry families, almost all of which have one or two priests dining with them. (We once bent this rule and followed two nuns into the basement of a dodgy-looking trattoria. Needless to say, it was not a good idea: we had the worst meal of our lives, and so did the poor nuns!)

Beginning our year away from Edinburgh is invigorating and exciting. The combination of familiar tastes and new dishes means we start the year full of ideas and return to work inspired, ready to recreate the joys of Roman eating at home.

Winter minestrone with green vegetables and spelt

minestra di verdure e farro

Farro or spelt is an ancient grain that still crops up at feasts and festivals, most notably 5 December in Monteleone di Spoleto, where they celebrate the feast of San Nicola (Santa Claus) and the parish priest gives Zuppa di farro to the poor. High in protein and low in gluten, spelt cooks like good, old-fashioned Scottish barley, and you can easily substitute one for the other.

The richness, flavour and creaminess of the soup can be enhanced by adding a battuto, a blend of garlic, dried chilli, parsley and Italian lard, which melts into the soup at the end, helps it thicken and adds a rich, intense flavour. Tuscan Lardo di Colonnata is made from the fat under the pig’s back and is cured with salt, garlic, peppercorns and spices, slowly air-dried to give a creamy, full-flavoured lard. It is traditionally eaten plain on toasted bruschette, like luxurious bread and butter. If you can’t find it, you can use unsmoked pancetta instead. This soup tastes better the next day, so make it in advance if you can.

150 g farro (spelt)

1 large onion

2 sticks celery

1 leek

2 carrots

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 garlic clove

1 small peperoncino (dried chilli), crushed

large bunch of cavolo nero or curly kale

large bunch of bietola or Swiss chard

1 large potato

2 litres boiling water

sea salt

For the battuto

100 g Lardo di Colonnata

1 garlic clove

1 peperoncino (dried chilli), crushed

bunch of flatleaf parsley, chopped

Cover the farro in plenty of cold water and soak overnight.

Chop all the vegetables into similar-sized cubes. Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based saucepan. Add the garlic and peperoncino and warm through to flavour the oil. Add the onion, celery, leek and carrots and sauté until softened.

Add the greens, potato and the drained farro. Cover with the boiling water, then stir in a teaspoonful of salt. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally as the farro swells and thickens the soup. Add more boiling water if necessary. It is ready when all the vegetables are cooked and the farro is swollen but still has some bite. If possible, set aside for 24 hours at this point as it improves the flavour.

Make the battuto just before serving the soup. Lay the lardo on some greaseproof paper and add the garlic, peperoncino and parsley. Fold the paper over and use a rolling pin to beat everything into a paste.

Reheat the soup and adjust the consistency and seasoning as necessary. Add the battuto and simmer until the lardo has melted and the flavours have combined.

Lentil soup with smoked ham hock

zuppa di lenticchie con prosciutto affumicato

In the food markets of Rome you see piles of pigs’ trotters lined up with their toes pointing towards you. They are often blanched, white and anaemic – a bit unappetising. I prefer the smoked ham ends that you see in Scottish butchers’ – easily cooked and making a lovely soup and meal in one pot.

1 x 300 g smoked ham hock, soaked in water overnight

250 g Castelluccio or Puy lentils, or 1 x 400 g can brown lentils, drained

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 garlic clove, chopped

1 small peperoncino (dried chilli), crushed

1 large Spanish onion, chopped

2 sticks celery, chopped

1 bay leaf

1 sprig rosemary

2 plum tomatoes (from a can)

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

handful of chopped flatleaf parsley, to finish

Cover the ham hock with cold water and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 1 hour, skimming off any scum that rises to the surface.

Unless the lentils have been hanging around in your cupboard since last year, there is no need to soak them. Just rinse them in a bowl of cold water.

Warm the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the garlic and peperoncino and sauté gently to flavour the oil. Add the onion and celery and cook to soften. Drain the lentils and add to the saucepan along with the herbs. Stir for a few minutes so that they start to absorb some of the flavours.

Add the ham hock and its boiling stock, then stir in the tomatoes. The liquid should be about 5 cm above the lentils, so top up with boiling water if necessary. Simmer on a low heat for about 45 minutes, until the lentils are soft.

Lift the ham hock out of the saucepan and pull the meat from the bone: it should fall off.

Remove the bay leaf and rosemary sprig from the pan. Take about half the lentils and pass them through a mouli or sieve (not a food processor as it makes the soup gluey). Return the puréed lentils and ham to the soup, then warm through.

Check the seasoning and consistency, adding hot stock or water to taste (I like my soup quite thick).

Serve piping hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of parsley and plenty of black pepper. Alternatively, if there is a lot of ham, serve it as a main course after the soup with Nonna Caffè’s Mashed Potatoes (see here).


HOT-CHESTNUT SELLERS are a fixture on every street corner in Rome during the winter. The smell is so enticing that we often stop and buy. The best ones come from the older men who stand over their braziers like Michelin chefs, carefully smoothing the shell of each glossy marron before scoring it and placing it in just the right spot on the burner to cook it slowly and crack open the shell. Irresistible! Strolling in Rome at night, wrapped up warm against the cold, absorbing the sounds, smells and chaos of New Year and nibbling hot chestnuts. What more could you ask for?

Available from November, chestnuts are classified by size. Choose large, glossy ones as these are most likely to have a single large nut inside rather than two or three smaller ones. Wash them, as they might be grubby, and score with a stubby knife before boiling them for 10 minutes. Roast in a hot oven for another 10 minutes or so, then peel them while still warm so that the inner papery covering comes away easily.

Alternatively, use the excellent French, vacuum-packed, ready-cooked chestnuts that are widely available. For a quick snack, warm them through in a hot oven with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt, then serve them in a paper cone. You can pretend you’re in Rome!

Canned cooked chestnuts in water are also very good, while sweetened che


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