Cool Cooking

The hot, hot weather is upon us. We’ve had a very mild spring in Virginia, but this week the summer’s heat begins. And the transition to cooler cooking begins.

We fired up the grill for Memorial Day weekend, enjoying the visit of one of my sisters and their family. We dined alfresco, on our covered and screened porch. It was a spontaneous invitation, but it turned out to be a wonderful, relaxing evening.

The cookbook I turn to more often in the summer months is Twelve Months of Monastery Salads by Brother Victor-Antoine d’Avila-Latourrette. He has recipes for each month of the year, but I don’t follow monthly patterns if I have the ingredients, I find the recipe.

One potato salad recipe that is free from eggs (and mayonnaise) is his Sicilian Potato Salad. I’ve made it with small red potatoes, but I just made it with russet potatoes. Easy and nutritious and delicious are my aims in the kitchen. I now put whole potatoes on to boil in salted water, and after they are fork tender, I rinse and then peel the skins. I save so much time instead of doing the process of peeling and cutting potatoes.

Serve this potato salad at room temperature, or cold. It passes the next day leftover test, although the olive taste was a little more dominant.

Sicilian Potato Salad (Insalata di Patate) 

Salad
2 pounds small red potatoes, peeled, cooked in boiling salted water just until tender, drained and quartered
1 celery heart, finely chopped
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 cup black Sicilian olives, drained, pitted and chopped (I use less)
1/4 cup capers (optional)
1 gherkin (optional), finely chopped
a few sprigs fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped

Vinaigrette
1/2 cup Sicilian or other olive oil
2 Tbsp. dry Marsala wine
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

1. In a deep salad bowl, put cook potatoes and add celery, onions, olive, capers, pickle, and parsley. Toss lightly to combine.

2. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and pour over the salad. Toss lightly, making sure evenly distributed and serve.

Makes 6 to 8 servings.

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