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The Roman Salad You Should Try This Week

Think of Italian cuisine and admittedly, salads are not often the first thing to come to mind.  There are, however, some wonderful salad, vegetable, and fruit choices for an authentically Italian lighter meal.

After visiting the Vatican City in Rome, I love walking along the Tiber river from Castel Sant’Angelo, a lovely, shaded stroll.  Eventually the path leads to Trastevere, one of the most delightful neighborhoods in Rome.   

Trastevere literally means, “across the Tiber” and it is home to some of Rome’s oldest churches and many of it’s most charming streets.  Picture sidewalk cafes, jasmine draped pergolas, and rooftop gardens and the scene begins to unfold.

It is arguably the best “foodie” neighborhood where the locals go to hang out and linger over a leisurely, mouth watering meal.  In the Spring and Summer, Trastevere is a jasmine scented paradise. 

This past September, our visit to the Vatican was on our last day in Rome.  I already had my heart set on my beloved Caccio e Pepe (a meal we’ll discuss in another article) for dinner and was browsing the insalate (salads) on the menu for lunch. 

Typically, insalata mista (mixed salad) is readily available, but on this menu at our sidewalk café of choice that day, the fennel salad with oranges and black olives caught my eye.  I had never tasted fresh fennel. 

To our surprise, the restaurant we had chosen was quite a special one.  Its mission is to employee the handicapped people of Rome and give them a job, a sense of purpose and community.  We liked it immediately.  Everyone was helpful and friendly.

Our cameriere (waiter) brought out our food and what a beautiful sight!  Little white rings of fennel with the bright orange slices and whole black olives produced all we hope for in a meal; presentation, aroma, and flavor.

Salads in Italy are different from many of ours here, as they do not use salad dressings like we have in so many varieties.  Instead, they are delicately drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and maybe some lemon juice or a good vinegar.  With such fresh, seasonal ingredients, it works nicely.

The sweetness of the almost licorice tasting fennel combined beautifully with citrusy oranges and slightly salty olives.  Spicy olive oil was the perfect finish. 

It was my most surprising culinary find in Italy; so simple to prepare, such complex flavors.

If you would like to create this at home, it’s easy and delicious, sure to impress your family and friends!

Start with a bulb (or a few, depending on how many people you’re serving) of fennel. 

Cut the fennel, leaving out the hard core and darker green portions at the top.  It will produce little ring-like pieces, which you will put into a bowl to mix with the other ingredients.

Peel an orange or two to taste and toss in the slices.  

Add black or kalamata olives to taste.

Drizzle with your favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oil (try our Marini Giuseppe Toscano Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil to compliment the citrusy notes). You can squeeze in some lemon juice or drizzle in a nice balsamic if you like.

Think of Italian cuisine and admittedly, salads are not often the first thing to come to mind.  There are, however, some wonderful salad, vegetable, and fruit choices for an authentically Italian lighter meal.

After visiting the Vatican City in Rome, I love walking along the Tiber river from Castel Sant’Angelo, a lovely, shaded stroll.  Eventually the path leads to Trastevere, one of the most delightful neighborhoods in Rome.   

Trastevere literally means, “across the Tiber” and it is home to some of Rome’s oldest churches and many of it’s most charming streets.  Picture sidewalk cafes, jasmine draped pergolas, and rooftop gardens and the scene begins to unfold.

It is arguably the best “foodie” neighborhood where the locals go to hang out and linger over a leisurely, mouth watering meal.  In the Spring and Summer, Trastevere is a jasmine scented paradise. 

This past September, our visit to the Vatican was on our last day in Rome.  I already had my heart set on my beloved Caccio e Pepe (a meal we’ll discuss in another article) for dinner and was browsing the insalate (salads) on the menu for lunch. 

Typically, insalata mista (mixed salad) is readily available, but on this menu at our sidewalk café of choice that day, the fennel salad with oranges and black olives caught my eye.  I had never tasted fresh fennel. 

To our surprise, the restaurant we had chosen was quite a special one.  Its mission is to employee the handicapped people of Rome and give them a job, a sense of purpose and community.  We liked it immediately.  Everyone was helpful and friendly.

Our cameriere (waiter) brought out our food and what a beautiful sight!  Little white rings of fennel with the bright orange slices and whole black olives produced all we hope for in a meal; presentation, aroma, and flavor.

Salads in Italy are different from many of ours here, as they do not use salad dressings like we have in so many varieties.  Instead, they are delicately drizzled in extra virgin olive oil and maybe some lemon juice or a good vinegar.  With such fresh, seasonal ingredients, it works nicely.

The sweetness of the almost licorice tasting fennel combined beautifully with citrusy oranges and slightly salty olives.  Spicy olive oil was the perfect finish. 

It was my most surprising culinary find in Italy; so simple to prepare, such complex flavors.

If you would like to create this at home, it’s easy and delicious, sure to impress your family and friends!

Start with a bulb (or a few, depending on how many people you’re serving) of fennel. 

Cut the fennel, leaving out the hard core and darker green portions at the top.  It will produce little ring-like pieces, which you will put into a bowl to mix with the other ingredients.

Peel an orange or two to taste and toss in the slices.  

Add black or kalamata olives to taste.

Drizzle with your favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oil (try our Marini Giuseppe Toscano Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil to compliment the citrusy notes). You can squeeze in some lemon juice or drizzle in a nice balsamic if you like.

Mix it all together and serve. 

Buon appetito!

Mix it all together and serve. 

Buon appetito!