I have a secret. Okay not so much a secret for the people who really know me. I have a cookbook obsession. I am sure that many of you can relate. They fill over three large bookcases throughout my house. I believe it is the photos that really grab me and then creating variations on the recipes within the pages of the beautiful photographs.
Last week a package was sitting on my desk in my office – it was from Amazon. I just knew that my long awaited cookbook had arrived. Amazon will often tease you with pre-ordering books that are due out in a month or two. This only prolongs the excitement of opening the brand new book and thumbing through the pages upon pages of stunning photos and delicious recipes.
The book I had long anticipated to own had finally arrived - “The Mozza Cookbook” from famed chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, Nancy Silverton. She along with Matt Molina and Carolynn Carreno authored the pages of this stunning book with terrific recipes from the famed Los Angeles eatery Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria. The restaurant is co-owned with Nancy by Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich. From the mozzarella bar at the restaurant to the infamous pizzas and pastas that you swear were overnighted straight from Italy, this is a destination dining location. It is on my bucket list for sure.
Nancy is very well know for her chopped salad that was first introduced to her at La Scala Boutique in the 70’s in Beverly Hills, which is now closed. However, Nancy has taken this salad on into the millennium at Mozza. Strong flavors of oregano is the key ingredient in this tasty and satisfying salad.
I encourage you to make the dressing a day prior, so the flavors develop and the dressing will envelop every surface of the salad’s ingredients. I used a mason jar for easy mixing – just simply shake. I know that if you decide to purchase this book, you will not be disappointed and surely will find many foodie treasures you will make for years to come. The photos will amaze you and are mouthwatering. Enjoy!
Nancy’s Chopped Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
Half of a small red onion (halved through the core)
1 small head iceberg lettuce
1 medium head radicchio
1 pint small sweet cherry tomatoes, halved
1 1⁄2 cups garbanzo beans
4 ounces aged provolone, sliced 1⁄8-inch thick and cut into 1⁄4-inch-wide strips
4 ounces Genoa salami, sliced 1⁄8-inch thick and cut into 1⁄4-inch-wide strips
5 peperoncini, stems cut off and discarded, thinly sliced (about 1⁄4 cup)
1⁄2 cup oregano vinaigrette
Juice of 1⁄2 lemon, plus more to taste
2 1⁄2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
2 garlic cloves, 1 smashed and 1 grated or minced
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 1⁄2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
To prepare the salad:
Separate the layers of the onion, stack two or three layers on top of one another, and slice them lengthwise 1/16-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining onion layers. Place the onion slices in a small bowl of ice water and set them aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients for the salad. Drain the onion and pat dry with paper towels before adding them to the salad.
Cut the iceberg in half through the core. Remove and discard the outer leaves from the head and remove and discard the core. Separate the lettuce leaves, stack two or three leaves on top of one another, and slice them lengthwise 1/4-inch thick. Repeat with the remaining leaves and thinly slice the radicchio in the same way.
Cut the tomatoes in half, season them with salt, and toss gently to distribute the salt.
Combine the lettuce, radicchio, tomatoes, garbanzo, provolone, salami, peperoncini, and onion slices in a large, wide bowl. Season with salt and toss to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Drizzle 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette and squeeze the lemon juice over the salad, then toss gently to coat the salad with the dressing. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, lemon juice or vinaigrette if desired. Pile the salad on a large platter or divide it among individual plates, piling it like a mountain. Sprinkle the dried oregano on top and serve.
To make the oregano vinaigrette:
Combine the vinegar, oregano, lemon juice, smashed garlic, grated garlic, salt and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk to combine the ingredients. Set the vinaigrette aside to rest for 5 minutes to marinate the oregano. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly to combine. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice, if desired. Use the vinaigrette or transfer it to an airtight container and refrigerate it for up to three days. Bring the vinaigrette to room temperature, whisk to recombine the ingredients, and taste again for seasoning before using. Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main course.