I have recently written about strawberries, since I used them in a cobbler, and in a Danish braid. I also wrote about fragola a while ago. Today, I will describe a way of using the beloved berry in a savory setting. A typical savory use for strawberries is as an ingredient of risotto. However, since I have developed a recipe for risotto with another berry, I am putting off elaboration of this topic until a later date.
A few nights ago, I concocted an alliterative salad. However, the alliteration works only in Italian: insalata di fragole, fave e finocchi (strawberry, fava bean and fennel salad). This fusion was the result of random acts of purchase. I got the three ingredients with different ideas in mind, then decided to hijack them into a salad. The result worked well and I realized that the color combination, which was not at all part of my concerns, matches that of the Italian flag: bianco, rosso e verde (white, red and green), contributed by fennel, strawberries and fava beans, respectively. The Italian flag is a tricolore (tricolor) and sometimes referred to by that name. The green of fava beans is not the same green as that of the Italian flag, so I added basilico (basil) to strengthen the green component of the salad.
I prepared each element separately, then combined them:
- fragole: wash, hull and slice 1/2 lb of strawberries, then season them with a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar. Toss and set aside to marinate for a little while.
- fave: get the beans out of 1 lb of pods and blanch them briefly. Let cool, then remove the tough outer layer. Set aside.
- finocchi: wash carefully a fennel bulb and slice thinly, possibly using a mandoline.
Bring the ingredients together in a serving bowl and mix. Season as desired. I tend to stay very close to the tradition I grew up with, i.e., olive oil and vinegar. Make the first good quality and the second balsamic and you cannot go wrong. Add salt and freshly-ground pepper to taste and toss. Add a few leaves of fresh basil, finely shredded, toss again and serve. The combination of textures is another interesting characteristic of this simple summer salad.
Here is the roundup of the event.
Click on the button to hear me pronounce the Italian words mentioned in the post:
or launch the insalata di fragole, fave e finocchi audio file [mp3].
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