Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's Cooking Wednesday: Accademia Salad

Please go to The Fairy Blogmother for more What's Cooking Wednesday participants.

As many of you know, the Eatwrite family just had a marvelous trip to Italy.

This trip was sort of an early graduation present for C, who will be graduating from high school in June of 2011, but we figured that next year, he'll probably be doing the college visit thing or we'll just plain be putting everything into saving for college.

So there it is.

We went to Florence in February, with a brief taste of Venice.

From a culinary standpoint, it was also Tuscan, with a brief taste of Venetian.

On somewhat the spur of the moment, we signed up for a Tuscany day trip, which included stops in Siena, an organic farm and winery (for a spectacular lunch), San Gimignano and Pisa. It was all spectacular, with the exception of Pisa, which is touristy beyond touristy.

C wasn't feeling his best that day, and while he greatly enjoyed the trip, when we got back to Florence, around 6:30 p.m., he was ready to crash. D and I, however, wanted dinner, and the tour guide on our Tuscan trip had suggested one of her favorite restaurants within just a 10 minute walk from our lovely B&B.


So, we set off for the Ristorante Accademia, on Piazza San Marco, and had just a spectacular dinner there. I have to warn folks, that we also had a far-less-than-spectacular dinner there later - it's a restaurant with a split personality - "foreigners" in the front, and Italians in the back, with commensurate service, quality, etc. The food, however, was universally good, and they had a great, local, by-the-glass wine selection both times.

The first dinner we were introduced to the salad below, which was one of our favorite eating experiences in Italy (which is really, really saying something). It's just a great combination of flavors, and while I haven't completely captured the quality of the Accademia salad, I think most of the basics are here, and those who've tried it Stateside have seemed to like it.

Happy What's Cooking Wednesday!

Accademia Salad


1 TBS good quality olive oil
1 tsp good quality honey (if you can get Tuscan honey, so much the better)
2 TBS Looza peach nectar, or the equivalent (I've also made this berry juice - even cider might work)


2 large handfuls of watercress (I've been using arugula, since watercress isn't in season. I've also made this with winter spinach, and that worked well, too, but the bite in the arugula is a bit better)
1 large pear (preferably bosch), sliced into thin wedges
2 TBS toasted pine nuts
1 - 2 oz. EITHER pecorino Toscano (if you can find it - this is best, but also price) OR Basque sheep's milk cheese, Parrano or Pecorino Romano all make good substitutes - each has a different feel), shaved thin in strips
pepper to taste

1. Take a large bowl and put in the dressing ingredients and whisk HARD. The honey is just not going to want to emulsify, but persevere! Once you've gotten everything blended, let it sit while you fashion the salad.

2. Wash the greens and dry thoroughly and spread at the bottom of the salad bowl. Slice the pears on top of the bed of greens. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the pears. Shave the cheese on top. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper to taste, and drizzle the dressing over all.

3. Eat and enjoy!

Nutrition facts:

* Fat: 8.8g
* Carbohydrates: 12.8g
* Calories: 138.4
* Protein: 3.9g

As always, nutrition information supplied by the recipe calculator at

Sunday, March 21, 2010


The dishes are clean. The house is getting aired-out and springified.

The taxes have been sent off - both ours and my mother's.

We are now clearer on goals for our house, for C's future, for our next stage - whatever that is.

My writing group is more active than it's been in years, and I've been absent.

I have full notes on the trip to Florence sitting in e-folders.

I spent from 9 - 1 yesterday playing at a magnificent poetry workshop given by Scott Beal, whom C is also lucky enough to have as his short story workshop leader. Even better, I got to play with Anno at the workshop.

It was the perfect entree to my enforced leave from writing.

Happy Spring.