As we enter the early weeks of summer, we’re thinking of all the ways vegetables take center stage in the recipes and dishes enjoyed at Tuscan Women Cook, as well as the dolce far niente (sweet idleness) of the season. Juicy melons, succulent berries, bright leafy vegetables, and vibrant tomatoes grace the tables in Italy, offering a burst of sun-kissed flavors and refreshment. This time of year, the gardens of Montefollonico in Tuscany are brimming with colorful produce, inviting us to indulge in nature's bounty.
High quality vegetables are the heart of Italian cooking. From fagioli, lenticchi, and lupini to arugula, a Tuscan meal begins and ends with luscious foods fresh from the garden. To celebrate the season, Tuscan Women Cook is sharing in a favorite recipe for summer in a bowl: a crisp cucumber salad you’ll want to make all season.
Summer Cucumber Salad with Sweet Corn, Tomatoes and Avocado
Harry’s Bar in Venice is known for the blush pink Bellini cocktail that owner Harry Cipriani created in the 1940’s. But the restaurant’s chefs prepare many memorable dishes including a bright summer salad served in a deep bowl. The salad, which features cucumber, sweet corn, tomatoes, and avocado in a bracing red wine dressing, is a favorite of Coleen Kirnan, Tuscan Women Cook’s owner and host. We’ve adapted their recipe from Cipriani New York.
1 tsp dry mustard powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 ear sweet corn
1 long cucumber, peeled
10 cherry tomatoes, peeled
basil cut into thin slivers
To make the dressing, whisk together the mustard powder, some salt and pepper and the red wine vinegar in a small bowl. Whisk in olive oil.
To make the salad, cook the ear of corn in salted boiling water until tender, for approximately 8 minutes. Chill in ice water.
Stand up the ear of corn on a cutting board and slice off the kernels.
Place the kernels into a bowl and gently separate them into individual kernels.
Cut the cucumber in half lengthwise and then cut each piece in half. Remove the seeds. Cut the cucumber pieces into ¾-inch cubes.
Combine the cucumber cubes, the corn, and cherry tomatoes in a serving bowl.
Halve the avocado. Remove the seed. Using a paring knife, cut the avocado in a crisscross pattern to make small cubes. Scoop out the avocado cubes into the bowl of vegetables.
Drizzle with some dressing. Toss the salad to coat evenly. Adjust the seasonings, adding as much dressing as needed. Divide evenly between serving bowls. Garnish each serving with shredded basil.
Tip: To keep the pulp of a cut avocado from turning brown, simply rinse the cut surface under cold running water. Make this salad then serve it immediately.
Recipe adapted from Cipriani New York and reprinted with permission of Tuscan Women Cook.
Tuscan Women Cook is the unique and popular culinary immersion vacation located in the heart of Tuscany celebrating the food and culture of the Italian region and excursions into the charming village of Montefollonico.
During each day of the week-long program, a group of 16 participants learn to cook authentic Italian recipes from some of the best cooks in all of Italy…the local grandmothers, or “nonnas of Montefollonico.” These extraordinary women teach their cooking classes sharing family recipes that have been handed down from generation to generation.
For more information on Tuscan Women Cook visit their website, www.TuscanWomenCook.com.