I always wanted to conduct research on the people of Calabria and get to the bottom of what makes people living in places like France, Spain, Greece, and Italy so healthy with long, healthy, lives. There’s lots of anecdotal evidence pointing to stress level, diet, universal pensions, environment and climate, etc. and being the food obsessed we like to think diet is very critical.
In terms of diet, we’re big believers in consuming as many leafy vegetables (such as escarole, dandelions, swiss chard, etc.) as possible during a given week. Our family enjoys either a leafy vegetable (per the above) or a salad on most days of the week. We’re fortunate to have access to many markets with good produce, but if you can’t find escarole and wild dandelions then look no further than a standard “green salad”
Incorporating a salad into your daily diet is easy and it gets some vital greens into your system. I use Romaine, arugula, beat greens, watercrest, iceburg, boston lettuce, parsley, etc. or whatever looks good at the market to for the basis of our How to Make the Perfect Italian Salad Dressing recipe. We tend to mix different variations of salad greens and use a salad spinner to clean and dry the greens before serving. We also make a homemade dressing and never use bottled dressing. Here’s our quick salad dressing recipe which is perfectly acidic with the right amount of extra virgin olive oil.
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- ¼ cup of red wine vinegar (you can also ½ the vinegar amount and also include the juice of ½ a lemon)
- 1 teaspoon Dry Thyme or Oregano
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
- 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard (optional)
- Place the salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl and add vinegar first (this will help dissolve the salt) and mix well. Next, add Thyme and mustard and beat once again. Finally, slowly add the olive oil and beat/whisk until you have an emulsification.
- Note: most folks believe in a 1 to 3 ratio of oil to vinegar but I enjoy a slightly more acidic dressing. Also, for those of you who like anchovies feel free to add a single, minced, anchovy (cured in salt or olive oil) to the mixture! Italians do not generally include mustard in their salad dressings, but I like the combination of thyme and dijon mustard (the French get some things right!).