Insalata Estiva (Sicilian Summer Salad)

Insalata Estiva (Sicilian Summer Salad)
Recipe Type: Salad
Author: Nancy Harmon Jenkins
Note from Nancy Harmon Jenkins, the cookbook author: This summery salad is often served at Tenuta Pignatelli, a rose-walled villa outside Castelvetrano that is the home of the Becchina family, makers of Olio Verde, one of Sicily’s finest olive oils. The hearty salad is part of summer buffets in the villa garden, but it could be a first course for a dinner party, and of course it also makes an excellent main course all on its own for lunch. This recipe is available in Cucina del Sole: A Celebration of Southern Italian Cooking, by Nancy Harmon Jenkins. at Jessica’s Biscuit (
  • 1 pound yellow-flesh potatoes, such as yellow Finns or Yukon gold
  • Sea salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Sicilian
  • 1 pound green beans, cut in 2-inch lengths
  • 1 large ripe tomato, seeded and diced
  • 3 whole salted anchovies, filleted and coarsely chopped
  • 12 to 15 black or green (or both) olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and dried
  • 1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice, or to taste
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and sliced
  1. Peel the potatoes and cut in 1/4 inch thick slices. Bring a large pan of lightly salted water to a rolling boil and drop the potato slices in. Boil rapidly until the potatoes are just tender–about 5 minutes. While the potatoes cook, mix the olive oil with about a teaspoon of salt in the bottom of a salad bowl. As soon as the potatoes are tender, drain them and turn into the bowl, stirring gently with a wooden spoon to coat the slices with oil.
  2. Bring more lightly salted water to a rolling boil and add the green beans. Cook rapidly until the beans are just tender-5 to 7 minutes. Drain, rinse under cold running water to preserve their color, then toss dry and add to the potatoes, stirring gently so as not to break up the potato slices.
  3. Add the tomatoes, anchovies, olives, and onion slices. Sprinkle with the oregano, crumbling it in the palm of your hand to release its aroma, or the basil. Turn the salad ingredients very gently, adding the lemon juice as you do so. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt, herbs, or lemon juice if you wish. Finally, distribute the egg slices over the top.
  4. Set aside for 15 to 30 minutes to let the flavors meld, then serve. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
  5. Variation: To make a heartier salad, toss in little dice of fresh white cheese or mozzarella, or flaked oil-packed tuna or mackerel, and serve the salad with toasted crostini, bread crusts, rubbed with garlic and olive oil. Or present the salad on a bed of fresh greens, in which case arrange the dressed salad on top of the greens, then distribute the egg slices over the top.