Now, it is easy to get into a disagreement about food in Italy. Even about dressing a salad. I was told, in no uncertain terms some years ago, to apply the oil first to coat the greens, then a bit of salt. Vinegar (if you really must) goes on last. Then, the other day, I was castigated in the most friendly way by friends insisting I must apply the vinegar first – because oil added first prevents it from combining with the greens – and then oil and salt last. Well, I tried it both ways and I am sticking to my original formula.
So, in the spirit of the season of Olio Nuovo in Italy, pull out your best oil and your preferred vinegar (fresh lemons in the south of Italy if you please, Balsamico in the north) and try your hand at a perfectly dressed salad — nothing left sopping around in the bottom of the bowl, but each leaf flavorful and moist.
I drizzle the oil in a spiral starting at the ouside rim of the bowl, and end with a flourish. The acid – vinegar or lemon – should be about half that of the oil. I have come to appreciate a few gratings of a good sea salt and pepper, but this is entirely a mater of taste.