Sunday, May 22, 2011

Antipasto Salad At Home

The other night, though I didn't report on it, James and I joined our friend Shelly for dinner at local legend Casa Bianca. This humble neighborhood joint with well worn red-checkered tablecloths and cozy vinyl booths is the kind of place you might think didn't exist anymore -- especially within driving distance of LA. But, pretty much any night Tuesday through Saturday you'll find a line at the door (no reservations, no credit cards) waiting for hearty (dare I say it heavy) Italian American specialties and crispy pizza. This is not gourmet. Yet there is something so friendly and nice (and affordable) about Casa Bianca that we keep going back, especially with Shelly.
Though we had our usual dishes of Shelly's spaghetti al burro and James' sausage pizza, the highlight of the night (at least for me and James) was the antipasto salad. We've had it before and always liked it but tonight it just hit the spot. So much so that a few days later James mentioned he could have just had that for dinner (of course that would have kept him from cold pizza snacks the next day) and could we have something like it.
Never one to shrink from a challenge, especially if it involves culinary one-upsmanship, I set to work designing our dinner salad. I boiled some eggs. Then I chopped a mound of iceberg lettuce and radicchio and mixed in some loose leaf mesclun. Next came dry salami, mortadella, prosciutto, black and green olives, sliced pepperoncini, and fresh mozzarella cut into small cubes. I dressed the salad with lemon juice, olive oil and a healthy sprinkle of oregano then topped my creation with the eggs and a dollop of fresh ricotta -- just like at Casa Bianca.

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