07 July 2008

Vespas and Insalata di Fagiolini e Farro

Nothing says Italy to me more than sporty little scooters that zip around Italy's cities and make a mockery of traffic rules(but as they say here, Italian driving laws are only "suggestions" after all) as they wend their way around the twisty narrow streets and alleyways, than the classic Vespa scooter.
Last weekend we had a slight invasion of around 20 classic restored Vespa, their drivers and support vehicle, who arrived in dribs and drabs, next door for a bit of refreshment before ending up at the end of our road in Grandubbione to have a bit of fun and camaraderie. I must say they seemed a bit out of place , but I think our tree lined mountain road with all of it's twists and hairpin turns is probably much more enjoyable than weaving through traffic, in say Florence or Nice any day. A couple of them stayed with us as they didn't fancy camping out on the lawn of the baita that was their headquarters for the weekend. This is the second appearance of the French Vintage Vespa Club, Scooter Club du Sud- Est to wind their way up our road after traveling from Avignon, France up and over the alps, roughly taking about 6 hours to get here. They arrived one Saturday afternoon a couple of years ago,also, somewhat en masse, as they numbered about 20. It got my attention as I could hear them coming up for quite a ways down and I wasn't quite sure exactly what was coming up the road. This year they were a bit more strung out in their arrival. One of our club members scooter had broken down along the way, so he was hitching a ride with his friend and grateful for their support van along that picked him up and got him to the party.

Not exactly "Roman Holiday" but perhaps maybe Vespas's gone wild.
So to keep up with the fast crowd and when you have better things to do than slave away in the kitchen you might consider making a hearty green bean salad with cooked farro or barley in a refreshing vinaigrette. Farro or Spelt is a nutty chewy addition to this salad and is easily replaced by barley if you have trouble finding it. This recipe should get you out the door pretty quick and would be a good addition to any picnic, cook out or potluck spread. Make it a complete meal somewhat in the tradition of a Salad Nicoise by adding tuna and hard boiled eggs. The vinaigrette is is an approximation as I don't always make it the same and sometimes if adding the tuna and eggs at the end I will make a bit more vinaigrette to drizzle over it just before serving.
Insalata di Fagiolini e Farro

1 1/2 lb (700 g) green beans, slim tender ones if possible
1/3-cup farro, (60 g) cooked with a bay leaf and some dried herbs
Black Olives 1/3 cup or so
Tomato wedges and rounds, I use a couple of varieties for interest

1/2c Olive oil
2 TB Balsamic vinegar, I used an aged one so it's quite syrupy
3-4Tb Herbal vinegar you can use just one or the other, but I like the blend
1/2 small Red onion
1 small garlic clove, minced or grated into the liquid
a few leaves Basil or mint, fresh, sliced long, substitute sage when there isn't any basil to be had
a few fresh Parsley leaves, chopped
Salt & pepper
1-2 generous tsp Brown mustard, I like grainy when I have it

Optional items
Tuna, a small can drained
2-Hard-boiled eggs sliced into wedges

Wash the green beans and clip off the tips of each ends, leaving the beans whole.
Drop the beans into a pot of water, that has been salted and brought to a boil.
Cook briefly to retain color and texture.

Rinse your farro and bring it to a boil separately, with some salt and maybe a bay leaf or other herbs for more flavor
I usually use some oregano and thyme. Right now I have a lot of fresh herbs so I might tie a few stalks of oregano, marjoram, bay and thyme and toss it in while the farro boils. Usually it only takes 10-15 minutes if you have pearled farro. If you have whole farro them you might consider putting it in the pressure cooker to get it cooked faster.

Make your vinaigrette while the beans and grain cook.
In a bowl large enough to hold all of your beans and grain and be able to stir.

Start with a tsp of salt in the bottom of your bow. Whisk in your mustard, them the vinegars, and slowly add your oil as you continue whisking.
Add your olives
Add your fresh herbs.
Taste and adjust seasonings.
Reserve maybe 1/3 cup of the dressing to dress just before serving.
Toss the bean in, stirring to coat and then the grain.
Let set for a few hours to develop your flavors.
You can refrigerate till ready to serve, but try to bring it to room temperature before serving for the flavors to come out.
Check your seasonings again and adjust if necessary.
Arrange on a platter or individual plates.
Garnish the top with the tuna and surround the sides and bottom with your tomato and egg wedges.
Drizzle some dressing on top of the tuna, tomato and eggs and serve.


Ilva said...

Beautiful Vespa that red one! And what a wonderful recipe! I HAVE make it!

Bella Baita Marla said...

Yes I loved it too.
Actually, I made this salad with this months Heart of the matter entry, but didn't make the deadline and decided against whining about how I can't keep up. And yes, I would like some cheese with that w(h)ine!

Anonymous said...

A Vespa is a beautiful thing, never mind 20!

Lora_3 said...

Love the Vespa!

Man, I so want to come and eat at your place and stay a week, a month a year! LOL Truly, because of you I bought a cook book of Italy! Beautiful book!

I might not have time to say Hi all the time but please know that your in my reader and I'm Loving what your posting!

Be safe...

Anonymous said...

Love the Vespa and SERIOUSLY love the sound of this recipe!

Anonymous said...

What a funky vespa. Makes you wish you were young again. I love the salad. I always make mine with beans (butter or red kidney) but have not thought to make it with farro, which I adore. Thankyou

James Higham said...

Looks more than interesting, particularly living in Sicily here. Have to come back soon.

Bella Baita Marla said...

All these great comments. I've been too busy to write much lately, even though I have lots I want to erite about, but have enjoyed browsing through all of your blogs when I have a moment. Thanks for stopping by.

joe@italyville.com said...

Hi Marla. great recipe and it looks so refreshing for a hot summer day with a glass of white.

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