From the SCCC Kitchen: Kalamata olives and fennel are keys to summer salad
“From the SCCC Kitchen” offers Daily Gazette readers tastes from Schenectady County Community College’s nationally accredited American Culinary Federation culinary arts program. Today, technical specialist Tom Alicandro tosses together a Mediterranean-style salad.
The exotic Mediterranean is never far away for Tom Alicandro.
Field greens, sliced fennel and roasted red pepper, Kalamata and Spanish olives travel to a salad bowl. The taste, Alicandro believes, is a perfect trip for summer dining.
“The reason I call it Mediterranean salad is I have some ingredients that really grow in the Mediterranean countries,” Alicandro said, “Kalamata olives from Greece, fennel from Italy, Greece and Spain — they all use it — and red peppers. They work together pretty well because they really have a unique taste, especially fennel. People aren’t used to using it so much in the United States ... you can eat it cooked or raw.”
The salad is terrific for afternoon or evening engagements.
“It’s a great summertime dish because it has enough bulk to it,” Alicandro said. “You could have it for lunch by itself or you could have it with grilled meats. And it goes very well with grilled chicken.”
People shouldn’t settle for black olives when they visit Alicandro’s “Mediterranean.” Home chefs must invest in the deep purple, almond-shaped Kalamatas.
“They really have a unique flavor,” Alicandro said. “Once you’ve had one, you really know what it tastes like. Anybody that eats in a Greek diner and has a Greek salad knows exactly what I’m talking about.”
1⁄2 pound field greens, washed
1⁄2 fennel bulb, sliced
4 ounces roasted red peppers, drain and toss with 1 ounce vinaigrette
1⁄4 cup pitted Kalamata
1⁄4 cup green olives
1 ounce Regio Parmesan cheese
4 ounces red wine vinaigrette (or balsamic vinegar)
Radishes, sliced to taste
Salad oil, enough to coat fennel
Salt and pepper, to taste
Prepare fennel by cutting off the stem near the top of the bulb, trim root, remove outer peel and rinse. Slice into 3⁄8-inch slices.
Toss the fennel with salad oil, salt and pepper and roast in a hot oven (400 degrees) until slices just start to change color. Drain and cool. You may grill the fennel instead, if you prefer.
Make a stack of fennel using two pieces each until all the fennel is used. Slice and stack the red pepper the same as the fennel.
To plate: place a pepper stack and fennel stack on the outside of plate, place greens in the middle of the plate in a small mound and garnish with a couple of green and black olives and sliced radishes. Add a few curls of cheese to top. Chill until service and dress the salad with the remaining vinaigrette at this time.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.