Monna Ginevra: Tuscan Salad

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In honor of my dear friend Kate leaving this week to embark on a 40 day European trip with her hubby, I’m reminiscing about a trip I took to Italy several years ago and all the incredible food I was inspired by while I was there.  This week, I’ll be sharing with you a few standout dishes that left me craving another trip to Italy soon. Today’s post is about a salad I had when I was in Tuscany, a Tuscan Salad.

I spent two weeks in Italy and about three or four days in the Tuscan region.  It was absolutely phenomenal.  Every meal was eaten outside, mainly on the back patio of the Capannelle Vineyard Villa where I was staying.  The villa sat up on a hill overlooking the property’s olive groves, vineyard and out over the valley past neighboring villages.  The first meal I had there was lunch and there was no ordering off a menu.  The man who oversaw the villa simply asked what sounded good and a gave a couple suggestions.  After a glass of wine (maybe two or three) and a simple cheese plate with bread to kick off the meal, a gorgeous plate of perfectly blanched green beans, cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and mixed lettuce was served.  It was a wonderful and different spin on a caprese salad.  An incredible pasta dish was served next, but in all honesty, the only thing I was interested in was the wine, cheese plate, bread and salad.  That is how lunch should be served and I don’t usually pass up the opportunity to eat pasta.;)

For dinner one night, I ventured out to a spot called Monna Ginevra at a little Inn called Le Pozze di Lecchi Chianti.  It was a tiny restaurant with only about 15 tables.  There was a chef, a sous chef and one waitress running the whole place and it was literally all hands on deck.  Wherever there was a need, the first available person was helping.  This particular spot was so good, I actually ended up eating there twice.  I don’t normally like to do that when I travel, but it was so good, I couldn’t resist.

The first night I ate there, I ate outside.  It was a somewhat cool night in late July, perfect for dining al fresco.  Along the rock wall where I sat, they had little votive candles scattered in spots where rocks had fallen out and there were full grown lavender plants lining the entire length of the wall.  Over by the back door to the kitchen, there was a little garden full of herbs.  Every few minutes you’d see the chef or the sous chef run out and clip what they needed for the dish they were preparing.  I don’t know how ya’ll feel about that, but to pop out of a door, grab a handful of ingredients and use them immediately in what you’re cooking is just pure heaven in my opinion.  That gives “freshness” and “homemade” a whole new meaning.

One of the dishes I got that night was a salad that had fresh herbs, cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes and this delicious parmesan crisp on top.  On the menu, it was called something funny that I couldn’t pronounce or understand the meaning of.  When the chef came out to take my order, yes, the chef…I told you it was all hands on deck, I asked what it was and he told me the name of the salad meant, vanity and healthy.  It was supposedly made up of healthy ingredients that preserve your vanity.  This was definitely one to recreate at home.  My Tuscan Salad has some slight variations and the bean salad that goes on top is a copy of a salad that another friend of mine made years ago when we cooked out together.  You’ll love the flavors of this salad.  It’s long overdue to wind up on the blog, but here it is!  Now, make this and go be vain!;)


Monna Ginevra: Tuscan Salad

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