~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Insalata di Rinforzo(Reinforcement Salad)... or pickled vegetable salad.

Insalata di Rinforzo(Reinforcement Salad)... marinated vegetables with olives. Originally from Naples, this salad is commonly served around Christmastime when cauliflower is used as a main ingredient in a typical winter salad. The steamed cauliflower is usually mixed with olives, capers, some herbs, oil and vinegar.... and maybe a few other ingredients. It's called reinforcement salad only because it's "reinforced" throughout the days with other leftovers... such as pickled vegetables(Giardiniera), tuna, anchovies, egg, etc. By adding additional ingredients to the original dish, the salad could last into January, when the festivities end.

The insalata di rinforzo can be a great substitution for regular pickled vegetables, as it saves you the pickling time that's normally required... and as an added bonus, it allows you to eat it right after it has been made. Just a bit easier I find... and just as tasty. Granted you may not get all the health benefits from the pickling fermentation, but when strapped for time and you want a salad that mimics the pickled version, I find it a great substitution.

Because the vegetables are somewhat cooked a bit, their fresh flavor changes and becomes more mellow ... the peppers and carrots become sweeter, the fennel loses some of its anise flavor, and the onions lose their"bite". The salad has a nice crunchy texture, with a tinge of natural sweetness from the vegetables, and just the right amount of "pickle". It pairs exceptionally well with the briny olives and capers. Love it... and I could eat loads of it.

You can easily play around with the ingredients in the salad, use whatever vegetables you like more of, omit others... make it spicy, or not. And even though I followed Nigella's version for the most part, I ended up using some carrots in mine, used jalapenos and extra chile flakes(jalapenos weren't spicy at all), used some shallots instead of the pickling onions, and added dill instead of parsley... ingredients I had and wanted to use up. So don't feel you need to have the "exact" ingredients to make the salad work.

Nigella Lawson's version makes a pretty large batch, so it's ideal for entertaining or for gatherings of all sorts. It's a nice salad to serve because it can please vegetarian and gluten-free folks alike... and it's also great for no-carb/grain-free diets. The salad stays quite well in the fridge for days, so if you have any leftovers, you can munch on the salad throughout the week... or pickle it to last even longer. But my salad didn't last very long:).
Will be making this salad again...as it has become a favorite. Hope you enjoy...

Note:~ This pickled vegetable salad serves 8 generous portions.... If you are not planning on eating it all, the salad will last a few days in the fridge... or you can stuff some of the vegetables into sterilized canning jars. Just pour a mixture of half vinegar and half olive oil over the vegetables.

Tip: Try not to cook the vegetables too long, or you will loose much of the crunchiness you are looking for... really a great idea to plunge the vegetables in cold water to stop them from cooking further.

You will need: adapted from Nigella Lawson

3-4 TBS kosher salt
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
16 cups water
2 2/3 cups white wine vinegar
1 tsp fennel seeds, optional
2 tsp peppercorns, optional
4 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in quarters
2-3 large stalks celery, sliced on a diagonal
3-4 shallots, sliced thickly or 1 small onion*
2 large carrots, julienned
1 yellow pepper, cut in thick strips
2 red peppers, and cut in thick strips
1 fennel bulb, sliced
2-3 jalapeno peppers, sliced
1 -1 1/2 cups ounces pitted kalamata olives ( or a mixture of black and green olives)
2-3 TBS capers
chile flakes, to taste, optional
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley or 2 TBS fresh dill, chopped
* or 10 ounces pickling onions, that have been peeled after soaking in hot water...or even a small onion, cut into thick strips/wedges

For dressing:
3 TBS white wine vinegar
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

For preserving as a pickle:
equal amounts of: white wine vinegar and olive oil (not extra-virgin)

1. Get vegetables ready and boil water in a very large soup pot.

2. Add 2 tablespoons of the salt to the boiling water... along with the cauliflower florets. Cook until tender-crisp, about 5 to 8 minutes. In the meantime, prepare an ice water bath.

3. Remove the cauliflower florets from the boiled water and quickly place them into the bowl of iced water.
4. Pour out half of the boiling water( you can eyeball this...doesn't need to be that precise) and add the white wine vinegar, 1 -2 TBS salt( I used 1 TBS, but Nigella uses 2 TBS), fennel seeds, if using, and garlic cloves. I added 2 tsps peppercorns as well.

5. Bring the water back to a boil...and then add the remaining cut up vegetables (celery, onions, carrots, peppers, fennel, and chiles).

6. Cook vegetables for about 8-10 minutes...or until tender. In the meantime, remove the cauliflower that has cooled and place into a large bowl. Add more ice to the water bath, to make it ice cold for the next vegetables.

7. Remove the rest of the vegetables from the boiling liquid and plunge them into the iced water; when cold, drain and add to the bowl with the cauliflower florets.

8. Mix the cauliflower and other vegetables with the garlic. Add the olives and capers.

9. Make dressing and pour over the salad. Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle the chopped parsley.... or in my case about 2 TBS fresh/frozen chopped dill and some of the fennel greens.

10. Combine everything really well, using your hands....best method. Taste and adjust seasoning... add more oil, vinegar, salt or pepper, if you feel it needs it.


Speranta said...

Ellie,sa sti ca am incercat reteta"pickled
vegetable salad." Si a fost o bunatate!

Multumesc mult pentru reteta!

O saptamana binecuvantata iti doresc...

Ellie said...

Speranta, Cu placere...si ma bucur ca ti-a placut si tie! Apreciez ca ai trecut pe la mine si sa-mi spui.

Intradevar, este o bunatate!

Vreu iarasi sa incerc a doua serie:)... ca imi place tare mult!

Un weekend placut si si tie la fel...

Mihaela said...

Ellie, your salad looks so fresh and crunchy that I want to start eating. For sure I'll give it a try!

Ellie said...

Mihaela, It's such a wonderful salad... hope you can give it a try as well, and that you like it as much as I do:)...