Get your veg on with this voluptuous Italian raw vegetable starter!

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Happy Fiesta Friday annual celebration all! Yes, I do know this week main courses are on the menu, however in order to balance out all the cooked delicacies I figured some fresh and crunchy veggies would be in order. Also we recently had guests and this was on the menu as a starter, but I also have had it as a main since, and honestly garden fresh vegetables hand dipped into your very own vinaigrette and presented as above for me is an sensuous experience and a pure celebration of all that nature presents us with ;  pics above – true it’s not my living room but my kitchen, below well read on to find out.

Ingredients: Raw vegetables – fava beans, carrots, red beet, rucola, and an italian vegetable whose name I don’t currently know (it was sent us in a big box from Puglia by very caring Nonna di Giulia who suspects rightly that the quality of vegetable she can buy and the stuff I can get cannot be measured on the same scale)

Olive oil: I like strong grassy tuscan extra virgin olive oils

Aceto balsamico: it doesnt have to be sinfully expensive but there is a lot of stuff on the market that doesn’t deserve the name, if it is really inexpensive then it’s probably not going to make you happy

This has to be the worlds most satisfying starter, because it is light and fresh, you can pick at it with your fingers and dip into your own little bowl of great extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and chat while you eat. It’s a slow starter, which I think enhances the experience of sharing dinner with friends.

While when I had it in Italy the vegetables were served alone without cheese, which at the beginning of a meal does make sense,  I added some Manouri cheese as well because I had fava beans I wanted to show-case. Manouri is a Greek cheese which I get from my local Turkish shop, I like to serve it with raw vegetables in this way because the cheese has a soft and creamy texture and a fresh milk like taste, slightly like ricotta but with a creamier texture, it is very mild and the first time I had it it reminded me of a village cheese eaten in Southern Puglia at the end of a simple meal together with fresh fava beans shelled by each diner at the table.

If you can get hold of fresh fava beans and manouri I urge you to try a bit of Manouir cheese with a couple of fava beans and I promise you you will be hooked on the combination. Don’t substitute feta!

 I served this with Turkish pide bread, because that was all I had, I like it, I would have preferred a bread with more substance to go with this, Soutern italian white bread or potentially some home-made focaccia but sometimes perfection must be sacrificed on the altar to sanity….. yes I know it’s hard if you don’t believe me read the post about how I usually am when being a hostess:  Chefzilla……We drank a very nice Greco di Tuffo – white wine made of Greco di Tuffo grapes from Campania – so we stayed regional with dinner (although I served red beets which wouldn’t have made it onto the plate in the South of Italy, because I forgot to get some fennel).

Below you can see how the starter looks when you have a 5 star hotel to showcase it!

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Above the first time I was served this was in Puglia in a wonderful place called Masseria Torre Coccaro , photos below, a place I know that my blogger friend Flippenblog would love muchly as she is currently craving a vacation, but then who isn’t? If you are ever in that neck of the woods recommend you stop for dinner, very romantic, very stylish, very agreable. If you have ever had the hankering to feel pampered like a star, the waiters in this place do it for you unobsequiously, the restaurant is splendid.

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 The dining room

IMG_2957The ocean nearby:

IMG_2951And the Masseria as we were driving up after a long flight and and a longer drive:

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21 thoughts on “Get your veg on with this voluptuous Italian raw vegetable starter!

  1. Poli, I must say that after all the puddings and main courses at Fiesta Friday, this does seem very refreshing! Love your travel photos – seems like it was a great vacation. And thanks for reminding me about your Chefzilla post – I think about it occasionally when my OCD tendencies start to kick in! Happy Fiesta Friday x

    • Hi there – thanks so much for coming over to see me – in the village they eat cheese and fava beans as dessert, or oranges and clementines from the tree, or else interestingly fennel bulbs cut open – all very healthy indeed – might explain why the Mediterranean diet is so good for you – yep this too was a great vacation, sometimes looking through the blog I wonder if I do anything else apart from go on holiday.. 🙂 OCD tendencies are very hard to master, I know…

    • Hello Elaine – thanks so much – happy FF to you too – the revelation here for us was when we invited guests for dinner and had this as a starter a fava bean and vegetable soup as a second course, bruschetta as nibbles at the very beginning and eggplant parmigiana for a main followed by a chocolate and chestnut cake and nobody felt stuffed or full or anything which when you have a dinner party is often the case – my first vegetarian dinner party and felt better afterwards than after traditional ones..Have a great weekend!

  2. Wow, absolutely wonderful looking at your vegetable starter after all the other offerings folks have brought. I think I could easily devour that entire plate myself. Such a gorgeous table setting too. Happy FF and Happy weekend to you 🙂

    • Hi Loretta – yes you could easily devour the whole plate yourself AND you wouldnt feel stuffed either which for me is already very good news! have a lovely weekend Poli

    • Dear Julie thanks so much for popping by and taking the time to comment – much appreciated! I have made this for lunch and dinner for myself mutiple times since the guests left! Happy weekend Poli

    • It does seem as though I spend most of my time eating doesn’t it! the restaurant was really lovely – the table settings so elegant, nothing quite beats a big fire in the hearth and white table linens coupled with proficient service! (oh and great food of course)

      • We had a chance to have a similar fireside meal at Thanksgiving with our kids– it was a lovely “gift”– I just though your space looked totally charming, so old world.

      • fireside meals are the best – I think having dinner with the kids would be wonderful too – sense of continuity somehow, wonderful – the space we were in was charming – not my own sadly – but a blessing to be able to be there

  3. Oooh yes your friend flippenblog will day dream about this place and atmosphere the whooooole day long. Dreaming about strange and new places is a thing I do well. Just came back from a business trip so can now be more “present” in February for a change. How you doing? and is the winter still a killer over there?

    • hello there – I know that you would like this place, you could even be a legal eagle outside in the garden working under the olive trees with some nibbles and a nice glass of something cold, – aha business trip, good for you, I haven’t done one of those for ages and apart from losing my frequent traveler privileges which is a shame as I now need to try to use up all the miles before the expire i am quite happy to work from one spot and travel not so much…!Being present in February sounds good, here the winter is still dark and miserable and cold, but at some point it will get warm in about 4 months….!

    • good to be more present – I am making myself a present of my present (Ha bad joke) by taking the time to go through all folders (amazing how much stuff is irrelevant and can be thrown out) my office is now starting to look OCDish which I really like – wonderful, day dreaming is great – I recently bowed out of a trip to egypt because I just want to stay home – funny that – so no day dreaming for me, but you I can imagine you would like the place I posted about, reminds me I have another one you’d like – nice old residence couple hours outside milan, lovely sleepy village, GREAT wines, great seafood, and beautiful grounds! I must put that up some time

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