Salad of Mixed Greens, Cucumbers and Green Beans

A Salad in the style of Scappi

Introduction:

The first dish of the first course of the Taming of the Shrew event, this dish was a combination of several recipes.

Scappi lists salads throughout his cookbook, but gives no recipes – unsurprisingly, as the methodology is quite simple. However, there is an Italian source, Salvatore Massiono, who wrote a few decades later (just post-period, in 1627) and who is very opinionated on salads.

Of all the salads we eat in the spring, the mixed salad is the best and most wonderful of all.  Take young leaves of mint, those of garden cress, basil, lemon balm, the tips of salad burnet, tarragon, the flowers and most tender leaves of borage, the flowers of swine cress, the young shoots of fennel, leaves of rocket, of sorrel, rosemary flowers, some sweet violets, and the most tender leaves or the hearts of lettuce.  When these precious herbs have been picked clean and washed in several waters, and dried a little with a clean linen cloth, they are dressed as usual, with oil, salt and vinegar.

In order that cucumbers more easily pass the stomach eat them with the peel rather than without.  Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and make of them pieces moderately thin and dress them with oil, vinegar and salt like other salads.  But the custom one has learned is to add several pieces of raw onion and the leaves or sprouts of green basil.  This is not without foundation in art, perhaps it counteracts the natural coldness of moisture of it and makes the juice less large and less slow.

The bean pod of this bean, when it is young and tender, is at it’s most perfect point, cook them all intact and dress them as I have described for hop sprouts*, and they are very good.  When they dry one can make good dishes (minestre),

*(Method for hop sprouts) cooking them in the best broth.  very well drained in a clean plate with salt, enough oil and a little vinegar, or in place of that lemon juice, and a little cracked but not powdered pepper we dress them.

Discussion

  • The vinaigrette is a classical ratio of 3:1; Massiono complains of cooks who use too much vinegar on their salads or I would generally use something closer to a 3:2 ratio as is my preference.
  • I chose a red wine vinegar both for availability/cost and because a red wine vinegar is mentioned in Book VI of Scappi’s Opera.
  • An interesting variant might have been to use vinegar flavored with rosewater, especially had I used borage flowers in the salad, an ingredient used often within the book.

Salad of Mixed Greens, Cucumbers and Green Beans

Servings

4

servings

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lb mixed spring greens

  • 1 medium cucumber

  • 1/2 small red onion

  • 1/4 lb green beans

  • Handful Fresh Basil

  • 2-3 tbs olive oil

  • 1 tbs vinegar

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

  • Prep Vegetables
  • Wash and dry greens and vegetables.
  • Dice red onions into bite-size pieces.
  • Dice cucumbers without peeling.
  • Trim, string, and slice green beans.
  • Blanch green beans:Place in boiling water, in batches. Wait 1-2 minutes – beans will turn vibrant green. Remove from boiling water with skimmer and place immediately into ice bath.
  • Julienne basil.
  • Marinate Salads
  • Mix oil and vinegar with salt in a measuring cup to make dressing.
  • Mix cucumbers and red onions in large bowl, add 1/3 of dressing and basil.
  • Dress green beans with 1/3 dressing in separate bowl – add additional vinegar and cracked pepper to taste.
  • Marinate the two salads for 1-4 hours.
  • Assemble
  • Toss greens with remaining oil/vinegar mixture. Arrange on platter or in serving bowl, then add cucumber mixture and green beans on top, decoratively.

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