Summer Salad Season

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It is officially the start of summer here in Pittsburgh. The hot weather is upon us and that can only mean one thing, summer foods.

The thought of standing over a hot stove in the heat and humidity to prepare a full meal, well it just does not sound appealing.

During the dog days of summer, I am partial to easy and simple dishes: A salad with a good piece of crusty bread and a slice of sharp provolone cheese is nirvana on a plate.

As you may guess, many of the salads that I make are in the Italian Peasant Style of cooking. What I mean by this is that they are made with few ingredients and are simply prepared, using what ingredients are available in your kitchen and preparing it modestly and with minimal fuss. This is the way that my Italian family cooked and it is how I prepare most of my meals.

Three of my favorite “go-to” salads are the: Neapolitan and Tomato and Cucumber Salad, Neapolitan String Bean Salad, and Neapolitan Potato Salad.  I use them as side dishes to round out a main meal.

The recipes are simple and easy to follow, and the measurements are guides. Adjust the seasonings and dressings to your tastes. These salads can easily be doubled for feeding a larger crowd.

Give these rustic salads a try.  I think you will enjoy them.

Buon Appetito,


Italian Potat saladNicky D Cooks: Neapolitan Potato Salad

copyright 2011 Nicole DaCosta Shadel

Boil 6 medium size potatoes with the skins on until fork tender (al dente). Remove them from the pot, peel and dice. While still warm drizzle with 3-4 TBSP good olive oil and 1-2 TBSP red wine vinegar (optional). Add approximately 3-4 TBSP of chopped Italian Flat leaf Parsley. Toss all the ingredient gently together.  Season with Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

tomato & cucc salad3Nicky D Cooks: Neapolitan Tomato and Cucumber Salad

copyright 2011 Nicole DaCosta Shadel

In a bowl combine 3 medium vine ripened tomatoes (cut and quarter), ½ medium chopped sweet onion, and 1 diced cucumber and 1-2 TBSP chopped fresh basil.  In another bowl whish together 3-4 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil, 3-5 splashes of red wine vinegar ( or white balsamic), Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Toss the salad with this dressing. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste.

String Bean Salad1Nicky D Cooks: Neapolitan String Bean Salad

copyright 2011 Nicole DaCosta Shadel

Cook and drained 1 pound fresh string beans until desired tenderness. Do not overcook the beans. Add 1 clove of minced garlic and 1 TBSP chopped fresh mint leaves. Add 2-3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil and 2 TSP Red Wine Vinegar.  Mix all the ingredients gently together. Season with Sea Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

Nicky D Cooks is Owner of Authentic Italian Cookies Biscotti and Pizzelle.

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