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copyright 2005 Art of Living,PrimaMedia,Inc/Maria Liberati
The Basic Art of Italian Cooking (ISBN 978-1928911-100-5)
This material may not be excerpted or reprinted without written permission, email: info@marialiberati.com for permission
Chapter Five – Picnic al Fresco:

It was the dead of August, and everyone was either at the beach or in the mountains enjoying their summer vacation. On this quiet summer day, the view from my patio called to me: The mountains were irresistible, the church steeple was picturesque, and my own garden reminded me of the glorious meals we had enjoyed and those that still awaited us. The artichokes were done for the season, but the organic rosemary and mint were ready. There were trees that bore susine (small plums), pears, and hazelnuts. It was the perfect setting for a picnic.
So I began planning a meal that we could eat outside, or al fresco. When Italians eat, the food and the presentation are important. So I planned not only the menu of insalata di riso, fagioli con prezzemolo, and fragole con limone, but also how I would serve them. I would need an attractive vassoio (tray) large enough to hold all the serving dishes. The wine, mineral water, glasses, silverware, and dishes could be carried out to the patio without a tray, but not my mouth-watering food. I chose a bright tablecloth for the picnic table. Although I considered the traditional picnic utensils and china, plastic silverware and paper dishes, the truth is Italian food and plastic silverware, or paper dishes, just do not go well together. It would be like placing a work of art on a piece of cardboard instead of a canvas.
Insalsata di riso is a popular dish for the summertime. It is light, refreshing, and easy to transport in containers to the beach, or wherever you are having a picnic. This salad is extremely adaptable, it works well with vegetables fresh from your summer garden as well as leftovers from your fridge. (Although leftovers are almost a no-no here in Italy, they are usually given to the stray cats and dogs that wander the streets.) But if you have some chicken or vegetables that are left over from dinner, place them in the refrigerator, and, the following day, slice or chop them to mix them into the salad.
My favorite rice salad is made with tuna canned in extra virgin olive oil or with fresh shrimp. (Frozen shrimp just won’t do.) Fresh celery, luscious tomatoes, cooked peas and string beans, green or black olives, your preferred beans-ceci (chick peas) or cannellini beans, all fresh, soaked the night before, and cooked; fresh mozzarella cheese balls; or small chunks of fresh mozzarella, provolone, or Emmenthal cheese, all make good additions to a flavorful tuna and rice salad.
amazon.com link
Sample Recipe :
Gnocchi di patate con
sugo di pomodoro
(potato dumplings with
tomato sauce) .

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