This insalata di rinforzo recipe is a staple of the holiday table in Naples, Southern Italy, and it’s so incredibly rich that really represents Italy at its best.
Two schools of thought on the most reliable meaning of “reinforcement” attributed to this salad.
The first is the one dictated by common practice to put it on the center of the table throughout the whole festive period, because being composed of different ingredients can be renewed, “reinforced”, with new ingredients or adding those previously consumed.
Another meaning, however, sees it linked to the Christmas ritual dishes, pasta and some fish.
Composing the latter a light meal, serve this salad to give consistency and strong flavors to a dinner of leanbasis.
Proof of the latter interpretation is written by Cavalcanti in his book dedicated to cuisine.
– 1 medium head cauliflower
– 1/2 cup green olives (Castelvetrano, Taggiasca/Liguria, Gordal or Manzanilla)
– 1/3 cup black olives (Gaeta, Nicoise or Kalamata)
– 8 anchovy fillets, rinsed
– 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
– 1 cup pickled cherry peppers
– 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
– 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1. Fill a pot with water; set it over high heat and bring the water to a boil.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, clean the cauliflower, removing the stem and surrounding leaves. Cut the cauliflower into florets.
3. Stem and seed the cherry peppers, and then slice them into thin strips.
4. Place the cauliflower into the boiling water and cook for 5 – 8 minutes or until the florets become slightly tender. They should still have a bit of a crunch.
5. Once the florets are cooked, remove them from the water and place them in a salad bowl. Discard the water.
6. Add to the salad bowl the green olives, black olives, capers, anchovy fillets and sliced cherry peppers as well as the oil and vinegar. Toss the ingredients lightly to combine.
7. Add more oil and/or vinegar to the mix if you prefer and add salt to your taste.
8. You can serve the salad immediately or refrigerate it for an hour or two to incorporate all of the flavors.
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