Italian summer salads

By Priyak Mitra: When it comes to salads, very few cuisines come even close to Italian. The freshness of the ingredients available in that region coupled with the ingenuity of the Italians make the salads out of this world. With summer here in full swing, salads are the best option for a light lunch. While some Italian salads can be a bit heavy, the following are light and perfect midday summer meals. Mid-summer Italian bread salad: It is important that you use slightly stale bread for this salad (a couple of days old).  Ingredients: 2 cloves garlic, one minced, 1 loaf bread (not the sliced variety), 1 cup chopped tomatoes, 1 cup cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped, 1 cup chopped onion, 2 cups chopped fresh basil, 1/8 cup chopped fresh thyme, 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, Method: Rub the whole clove of garlic around a wooden salad bowl. Pull apart or chop the bread into bite-size pieces. In the salad bowl, combine the bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, minced garlic, basil and thyme. Mix the olive oil and vinegar in a bowl separately and add enough of the mixture to lightly coat, toss and serve. Note: You can use almost any ingredient to this salad, like olives, shredded chicken, mozzarella, iceberg lettuce etc. Just ensure that you do not keep the salad hanging around. Serve immediately after mixing. Insalata Caprese: his is the ideal salad to make when you do not have any fancy ingredients at home. It’s fast, it’s easy to make and very impressive. Ingredients: 4 large ripe tomatoes, sliced 1/4 inch thick, 300 gm fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4 inch thick, 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, Sea salt to taste, Freshly ground black pepper to taste: Method: On a large salad platter or plate, place the tomato slices, mozzarella cheese slices and basil leaves alternately in such a way that they each piece half covers the next. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and serve. Source: Deccan ChronicleImage:

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