What a summer it has been, end of July we went to Mexico and had a wonderful time. It was E’s first time going and my fifth time, so I was so happy to enjoy it with Elia this time. We went deep sea fishing, snorkeled, laid around the pool, drank margaritas and enjoyed the Mexican beaches. I love Mexican cuisine when done right and I had a great time introducing E to what a real taco tastes like and relaxed with our friends, margartitas in hand. We had an absolute blast with our friends, a vacation never to be forgotten.
Once we made it back home we felt we needed to clean our bodies after all that delicious (some not so healthy) food. It was too hot in our house so fortunately we were able to stay at my favorite villa that he and his family owns for two weeks. It’s my favorite place in the entire world, the sense of tranquility hits you instantly the moment you pull in, birds singing, bees buzzing, bunches of roses and lavender outside the iron doors. You can’t help but feel relaxed and I was so happy to be there. We made fruit and vegetable smoothies, sunbathed by the pool and took many runs around the countryside together, cherishing the last week of relaxation before E had to go back to work and leave for a two week business trip in the United States. E’s grandma has her garden down the path nearby the horses and donkeys at the villa, so when I needed some vegetables or salad she told me I could go ahead and help myself. What a treat!
One night for dinner we went to my favorite Tuscan restaurant about a thirty minute drive out into the hills of Tuscany. The restaurant is owned by a mother and son, the mother who is 4ft tall, handles the BBQ better than any man I have ever seen! First course we always take a plate of prosciutto, salami and some bruschette (antipasti). The antipasti is always accompanied by these delicious pickled onions. I happen to love anything with onions and I love putting them on my salads but E is not such a fan of raw onions as much as me, although we both happen to love these pickled onions! I had to give it a try and make them at home.
Pickled Red Onions
1 large red onion
1 cup red wine vinegar
12 cup apple cider vinegar
small pinch of sugar
1 tsp salt
First fill a small pot of water and boil it. Slice your onion in half and take the peel off. Slice in half again and then cut thin slices. In a bowl stir all the ingredients together except the onions. Put your onions in a sieve and pour the hot water over the onions over the sink. Then take a glass canning jar and add your onions and pour the vinegar mixture over. Store in fridge for a month.
Since we usually have a salad for lunch, I like to be creative to make them filling enough for a meal. I had salmon leftover from the night before, fresh tomatoes, fresh lettuce and an idea up my sleeve for a delicious dressing to put over the top. Unlike America where there are rows and rows of bottled dressings in the grocery store to choose from, Italy has none. They use olive oil and balsamic vinegar and that is it. Sometimes I crave a good salad dressing to spruce up my salad and make my taste buds dance. I grew up using Wishbone Italian dressing, ironic that it is named Italian Dressing because in Italy they don’t even use them! Anyway, I love Wishbone Italian Dressing, as does my mother, she uses it on salads, tacos and even marinates her chicken in it! (very good) I had to figure out how I could make a homemade version that tasted similar. Let’s call it my Homemade Zesty Dressing.
Homemade Zesty Dressing
1 cup olive oil or canola
14 cup white wine vinegar
2 12 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 garlic clove pressed
2 tablespoon finely chopped red pepper
1 finely chopped shallot
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper (as much as you want)
Tiny pinch of sugar
14 teaspoon dried oregano
14 teaspoon dried parsley
Combine all ingredients in a mason jar and shake, shake, shake it up! I have had it in my fridge for about three weeks now and it seems to hold up well. Actually, making it a few days ahead of time and letting it rest enhances the flavor. The taste was spot on perfect. Time to make this salad dance.
Mixed Salmon Salad with Pickled Onions and Homemade Dressing
3 cups chopped romaine lettuce (or of your choice)
1 medium tomato chopped
Small handful of the Pickled Red Onions
Half fillet of cooked salmon
14 cup sunflower seeds
Grated parmesan cheese
Grated parmesan cheese
Pour Homemade Zesty Dressing over the top and mix well.