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!
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.
The dining room