We were supposed to go to the opera today, to see Rigoletto. My husband, AKA The Boss, and I are both from Odessa, which means we are huge opera fans. When The Boss hears Verdi, he becomes ecstatic, and Rigoletto is on top of his favorite Verdi operas. You can imagine the anticipation building after Covid had killed last year’s season and severely curbed this year offerings. And – Rigoletto!
I couldn’t help but share The Boss’ favorite aria with you, Beautiful People, sung by the inimitable late Tito Gobbi, one of the greatest baritones and brilliant tragic actors who have ever graced opera stage. Yet we all know what happens to the best laid plans of men and mice, don’t we? We are still in the midst of our great adventure, the weather is not cooperating, and we are stuck in the Keys. The Boss had the presence of mind to call Florida Grand Opera and cajole them to change our tickets to Thursday. We hope the A-mighty will bring us home by that time.
Meanwhile, I’ve been catching signal whenever I can, and thanks to dear Carol of Retired? No one told me! I have learned that March is a National Celery Month. Lovely Carol, an accomplished cook and a passionate environmental advocate, is on top of all National and International Food days, so all I do is follow. Here comes CELERY!
This is a combination of two salads. Years ago in Israel, my aunt served a simple, yet delicious and healthy salad. It was just thinly sliced celery with diced scallions, dressed Israeli style, with lemon juice and olive oil. I loved it and started making it regularly. Then I saw one of the antipasti offered at Hosteria Romana owned by our friend Marco Efrati right here on South Beach (caution: Hosteria Romana is advertised as specializing in Roman-Jewish meals, but it is not kosher). This antipasto consisted of celery, red onions, and cannellini beans.
The stocky jolly guy standing under the sign is Marco. We can’t eat there, obviously, but I can look, and when I see cannellini (white kidney beans), I can taste Florence. So I put two and two together and tweaked it a little.
I still have my sliced celery and diced scallions, but I throw in cannellini beans (sometimes I use navy or great northern beans, but any white beans are present in many Tuscan recipes) and some fresh parsley.
As with all recipes where you use canned beans, you have to drain and rinse them well. Most of the sodium in those cans will wash away. You can also use frozen beans and cook or steam them until tender.
Dice some fresh parsley, add fresh oregano, if you have it (or just more parsley, if you don’t), salt, pepper, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, toss, and you are good to go!
Is this the easiest salad you ever made, or what? I call it Florentine because of cannellini beans, and because I just want to have a little taste of Tuscany on my table.
This is Ponte Vecchio, a three-story bridge where Jewish silversmiths and jewelers have worked and plied their trade for 900 years. Some of those antique Judaica pieces you can see there are simply unbelievable!
So have a nice chilled glass of Pinot Grigio. Even though it comes from Venice rather than Tuscany, its refreshing, crisp, slightly lemony taste with notes of green apple pairs perfectly with this healthy salad.
Garnish it with a splash of color. I tossed in a few bits of red bell pepper to make it look Italian – red, white, and green. BUON APPETITO!
- 5 stalks of celery
- 6 scallions
- 1 can (1 1/2 cup) cannellini, navy, or great northern beans
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley and oregano
- salt and pepper to taste
- Thinly slice celery.
- Dice scallions.
- Drain and rinse beans, combine all three ingredients.
- Blend the rest of the ingredients, season and toss the salad.