From the cookbook “Cornucopia at Home” you can enjoy this salad full of Italian Flavours. It reminds me of the one my mother makes 🙂 This is for you to enjoy.

Fennel, Rocket, Tomato & Olives in a Balsamic Vinaigrette

It has always been said that ingredients are crucial in order to get good quality food.

However, there are some recipes that require more than just “good quality” ingredients. This salad, for example, absolutely requires delicious ripe vine tomatoes, as-good-as-you-can-afford black olives, as well as rich extra-virgin olive oil and a well-aged (over five years if possible) thick and musky Italian balsamic vinegar: aceto balsamico di Modena.

Served at room temperature so that all the flavours can sing, this is a simple but exquisite combination of some of the best elements of the Italian kitchen. Have a few hunks of crusty bread on hand to mop up the dressing from the plate. And prepare yourself for instant gustatory transportation to a sun-drenched terrace in Tuscany.

When choosing olives, the question of whether to buy pitted or unpitted may arise.

Pitted olives, “olive senza nocciolo”, are conveniently unthreatening to loose fillings and oblivious children, and there’s none of that awkward spitting out of half-chewed pits. However, the pitting process affects both the intensity of flavour and firmness of flesh of the olive, as well as removing, not only the pit, but a portion of the fruit too.

The gourmet choice is definitely unpitted olives, along with ample warning to anyone eating the salad and provision of a side dish to delicately dispose of the pits!

The delicious balsamic vinaigrette for this salad can be used to dress many other salads.

Salad

Ingredients

Salad
8 good-quality ripe vine tomatoes
2 red onions
2 bulbs of fennel
200g rocket — washed & drained if not pre-washed
150g good-quality black olives

Balsamic vinaigrette
100ml extra-virgin olive oil
50ml good-quality vegetarian balsamic vinegar
2 cloves of garlic
1 tsp apple concentrate (or unrefined brown sugar)
Salt and pepper

Procedure

Slice the tomatoes in quarters and place them in a large mixing bowl. Sprinkle them immediately with salt and pepper and leave them to absorb the seasoning.

Next, slice the red onion and fennel thinly and roughly chop the rocket. Drain the black olives. Add all of these to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes.

To make the dressing, simply blend together all the ingredients. Just before serving, pour this vinaigrette over the salad and turn gently to distribute all the ingredients evenly, being careful not to bruise or break up the tomatoes. Check the seasoning and add a dash more balsamic vinegar or a pinch more salt if necessary.

Note: If using unpitted olives, warn anyone eating the salad to watch out for their teeth.

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