Yes, when you think of eating Italian a fresh green salad is probably not the dish that comes to mind, but shockingly the last night of my Italian adventure a few weeks ago I found myself in Milan, staying at the airport hotel, that we arrived at just in time to watch Italy take on Germany in the Eurocup Semifinals. Though an adventure through Milan would have been lovely, we had spent the day touring Turin, mostly by foot, and relaxing with a cold beer and watching the match was really the best idea. The hotel bar was quite stale, and the restaurant didn’t have a TV so my traveling companions and I wandered over to the actual airport in Milan to see if we could find anything better there.
Luckily, we didn’t have to go far, as just inside the doors was a hoppin’ sky lounge filled with avid fans of their beloved soccer team enthusiastically cheering on their guys to a victorious win, while lifting cold glasses of Peroni, Moretti and Nastro Azzurro. Here, I had one of the best salads I have ever enjoyed…yes, at the airport bar.
The “Sicilian” included mounds of bocconcini, tomato, and olives with loads of fresh greens and delicate, delicious, olive oil packed tuna, all simply dressed with balsamic and just a touch of olive oil and lots of freshly ground pepper. And, mine wasn’t the only delicious dish. My travel mates enjoyed huge club sandwiches pressed panni style, and a to die for looking plate of prosciutto with fresh buffalo mozzarella, ripe tomatoes and olives. Gorgeous and delicious.
I recreated the “Sicilian” salad inspired by the Milan Airport last week, adding a few dolmades and white beans to take me back to Greece as well, along with steamed green beans, mushrooms, radishes and capers. Simple yet incredibly tasty.
Insalata Verde Ispirato dal Aeroporto di Milano
5 oz Fresh mixed greens
4 button or Cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 radishes, sliced
1 ripe tomato on the vine, sliced
1/2 cup yellow grape tomatoes, cut in half
1 handful green beans, stems removed and quickly steamed or blanched to barely cook them
3 or 4 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
4oz tuna packed in oil, drained well
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
3 sundried tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
optional – Dolmades, giant white beans in olive oil, Italian olives like Taggiasca or Cerignola
Salt and pepper
For the dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon each salt and black pepper
I liked the presentation plated with each ingredient separated from the others, you could also mix everything together. Lay the greens on the bottom of a serving dish, then add the tuna to the center of the plate and add each additional ingredient to the outer edge, working from one end of the dish to the other. Season with 1/2 tablespoon of freshly ground pepper and just a dash of salt (the capers and olives are very salty.) Make the dressing by whisking all the ingredients together in a separate bowl, then drizzle lightly over the entire dish. Serve immediately after dressing the salad.