The queen’s salad
is from the Duca di Salaparuta’s (1879-1946) cookbook, which not only honors his chosen way of eating (he was vegetarian) but also his aristocratic, Sicilian sense of style.
- ½ lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 2 artichokes, trimmed and sliced
- 1 lb. asparagus, tips trimmed
- 2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
- 1 cup cooked cannellini beans or 1 cup canned, rinsed and drained
- 2 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
- ¾ cup good-quality commercial mayonnaise
- 12 cornichons cut into fans for garnish
- 12 black olives, pitted, for garnish
- 4 tsp. capers for garnish
- In large saucepan fitted with metal steamer, with 2 inches water, separately steam potatoes, carrots, artichokes and asparagus until tender. Check saucepan for water after each vegetable and add as needed.
- In large bowl, combine steamed vegetables, lettuce, beans, parsley, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, salt and pepper to taste. Gently fold with rubber spatula.
- Turn salad out onto serving platter and form mound. Spread remaining 1/2 cup mayonnaise over mound of vegetables. Decorate salad by making a border around base with cornichon fans and olives. Sprinkle capers over top. Serve right away.
Note: To trim artichokes, before cooking cut stem away and remove outside leaves by bending them backward and pulling down; they’ll snap at the meaty point. Pull away the leaves until you see only pale green ones. Use a very sharp knife to cut away the remaining leaf tops, about a quarter of the way down. Quarter the artchokes. Using a very sharp knife, cut away the fuzzy choke and cut each quarter into very thin slices.