I have just returned from a trip to Italy and I am so inspired to cook! Sometimes, I get into a rut and find myself making the same meals over and over. Often, it takes a great restaurant meal, a beautiful produce display or a lively conversation with a fellow foodie to get my creative juices flowing again and nudge me out of my culinary comfort zone. In Italy, I had all of these things – the meals I ate there were some of the best I’ve ever had (made with the freshest of ingredients and elegant in their simplicity), the Campo de’ Fiori market is an absolute feast for the senses and can inspire anyone (cooks, artists and photographers, alike), and it seems that anyone and everyone in Rome loves to expound on the subject of food. Among other things, I learned where to find the best gelato, the difference between Roman pizza and all other kinds of pizza, and why the region of Modena produces the best balsamic vinegar. We learned as much about the food of Rome as we learned about its history and culture, so that by the end of our vacation, I was almost as excited about coming home to my kitchen as I was about going to Italy in the first place!
I have a bunch of stories and recipes that I’m excited to share with you - sort of a “Roman Food” series for the blog, I suppose - but first on the list of things that I am excited about is arugula or “rucola”, as the Italians call it. I have never enjoyed as much arugula as I did last week. It is definitely the green of choice in Rome and it is used in some very creative ways.
Arugula, Hard-boiled Egg and Tomato Salad
A handful of baby arugula
1 hard boiled egg, sliced
1 beefsteak tomato, sliced thinly
Bread of your choice
On a bed of arugula, layer the tomato slices and the sliced hard boiled eggs. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve with focaccia or toasted Italian bread (or, if you are being virtuous, whole grain toast).
Note: I tried another variation of this, as well - I used poached eggs instead of hard boiled. The soft, drippy yolks running over the tomatoes and arugula were heavenly! Whatever egg and bread you choose, you will not be disappointed!