Rome is in the middle of what seems to be a never ending heatwave. I’ve spent most of my summers in New Jersey, where it gets undeniably hot, but summer in Rome is a whole different beast. Non si respira. You can’t breathe.
Fortunately, I get to escape to the sea quite frequently. The heat in the city is oppressive, but at the beach there’s the breeze, gelato, the ocean, and gelato, just to name a few things. Still, most days it’s too hot to actually want to cook anything. That’s where our good friend salad comes in.
We have not one, but two delicious salad recipes to share with you today. If you’re not excited, you should be. These salads aren’t just side dishes, they have been elevated to main course status. And, in the summer, when it’s too hot to breathe (let alone eat), these salads might just save you.
Our first salad is a Terranova family classic: tomato, cucumber, onion, and hard boiled eggs. We call it Josie’s Salad, for my Great Grandma Josie who made it frequently. Josie’s Salad is a great meal when it’s too hot for anything too heavy. Served with crusty bread, it’s as close as a salad can get to perfection.
The second salad may seem a little bit strange, as it is composed of tomato, peaches, and mozzarella. If you balk at the pairing of peach with tomato and mozzarella, you’re not alone. I’ve had to convince more than one friend to give it a try. However, no one has ever been able to resist it after the first bite. It’s light and refreshing, but also filling thanks to the generous serving of mozzarella.
Another super cool part about these salads? You don’t have to make dressing. Josie’s Salad gets hit with an extra-super-excessively generous monsoon of olive oil, which mixes with the hard boiled egg yolks and makes a delightful little dressing all on its own. The tomato, peach, and mozzarella salad just gets a little drizzle of olive oil, which mixes with the juices from the peach and tomato and makes a lovely sauce to sop up with bread, or to lick off of your plate. Your choice.
Josie’s Salad Recipe
4 large salad tomatoes
4 small or 3 medium cucumbers (they’re sweeter than the larger ones!)
1 medium red onion
8 hard boiled eggs
Extra virgin olive oil (a lot)
Salt and pepper
1. Cut the tomatoes into wedges, then cut the wedges in half if they’re too big.
2. Peel the cucumbers if you want to (I don’t). Cut them in half lengthwise so you expose the seeds, gently scrape the seeds out using a spoon (they can be bitter). Cut the cucumbers into about 1/4-1/2 inch half moons.
3. Cut the stem end off of the onion, then cut it in half from stem to root and peel away the skin. Set the onion flat side down and thinly slice into half moons.
4. Cut the hard boiled eggs into 4 wedges, vertically.
5. Toss tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and eggs together in a large bowl.
6. Add some generous glugs of olive oil. Really, really generous. Let it flow.
7. Add salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste. You will probably need more salt than you think, season and adjust as needed. Toss.
8. This is the most important part: let the salad rest outside of the fridge for a few hours before serving. This is a great dish to make in the morning and leave on the counter until lunch time.
9. Serve with lots of crusty bread to mop up the juices. This also makes a great topping for friselle.
Tomato, Peach, and Mozzarella Salad
Ingredients (per each person, multiply by number of people you’re serving):
1 large tomato
1 large, still slightly firm peach
~100 g mozzarella
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1. Slice the tomatoes into rounds, cutting horizontally rather than vertically (this ensures the slices hold together).
2. Slice the peaches either into rounds or wedges.
3. Arrange the tomatoes and peaches on a plate.
4. Add the mozzarella to the center.
5. Drizzle with olive oil, shred some basil leaves over the top, and sprinkle with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Crusty bread is also a good idea here.
Julia Terranova is a Brooklyn born, Italian-American student with a love of Rome and all things Italy. She spends her time cooking for friends and reading as many cookbooks as she can find.