the appetizer:

Though there are many individual regional cuisines in Italy, northern and southern Italian cuisines are primarily differentiated by the cooking fat and style of pasta commonly used. Northern Italian cuisine (other than on the coast) favors butter, cream, polenta, Mascarpone, Grana Padano, and Parmigiano cheeses, risotto and fresh egg pasta. Southern Italian cuisine tends toward Mozzarella, Caciocavallo and Pecorino cheeses, olive oil and dried pasta. Southern Italian cuisine also makes greater use of the ubiquitous tomato.

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White Bean Salad

Serves 4

From boat parties to barbecues, this Italian antipasto salad travels well. It's traditionally made with chickpeas (ceci) but in this version, I find white beans such as cannellini or Great Northern beans work just as well. You may also substitute tuna for the salami. Feel free to add other vegetables, such as zucchini or red peppers, or whatever is fresh and crisp. For a more robust salad, add chopped pitted Greek olives, sliced pepperoncini (small Italian peppers), fresh fennel, smoked cheese, or fresh mint.

Mustard Vinaigrette

White Bean Salad

* Equivalent to one 15-ounce can, drained, although freshly cooked beans are preferable. You may also wish to try Kate's Classic White Beans recipe.

1. To make the mustard vinaigrette: Put the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Whisk in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream until the dressing is emulsified (or blend all ingredients in the work bowl of a hand blender or mini-chopper). Set aside.

2. To make the salad: Slice the red onion into thin rings, then cut the rings in half. Set aside half of the rings, then chop the remaining rings into small pieces. Put the chopped onion and the white beans, green pepper, salami, parsley, and oregano in a serving bowl. Pour in the mustard vinaigrette and toss to coat. Marinate for 15 minutes before serving. Serve sprinkled with the grated Parmesan and garnish with the reserved red onion slices.


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This page modified January 2007