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


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

yummy and easy. this salad's a winner.

anno said...

This looks fabulous! And thanks for posting the recipe -- I've been dying to try this!

Jen said...

NYC - I think so, too - the chef at Accademia was really great. We had a fabulous, simple pasta dish there, too - just a great, basic tomato/basil/garlic sauce with pici. Magnificent!

Anno - You were, in part, why I posted this one first. ;-) Enjoy!

Brian Miller said...

oh wow that salad sounds good...
and the trip as well...

TeacherPatti said...

It was awesome! Thanks for bringing it :)

peter said...

I'm deeply offended that you went to Italy without hiring me as a tourguide/translator/driver. I thought we were friends.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso said...

Mmmmmm I really love fruit in salads. P doesn't even get the salad thing (to him if there's onion, it's a party!), but I love something like this for lunch in the summer...filing away....

Jen said...

Brian the trip was *even* more awesome than the salad! I hope you have a similar opportunity when the boys are teens.

Patti - thanks for bringing the cobbler - it was fab!!

Peter - DARN! If I'd only known. ;-)

Michelle - I eat so many salads, I'm downright boring. I just love salad variety and there's nothing that fuels me better for lunch (I do switch to soups from around November - Feb).

Ivy said...

Glad to see you are back posting. The salad sounds delicious especially with the Italian cheese.

Jen said...

It's a nice combination of flavors. I must say, it's especially good with local Pecorino Toscano, so I'll just have to go back, I guess! ;-)

Yenta Mary said...

Jen, you are making me both jealous and hungry! That sounds amazing ... :)

hotmamamia said...

Hmmm, interesting combinations; shall have to try a miniversion for myself as the hubster wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole!

Brittany | the Home Ground said...

I am so so so jealous of your trip! I was wondering why you hadn't been around for so long. I can't wait to hear more!! Are there any pictures? This salad sounds amazing, too. Welcome back to the states, now complete with a new health care bill :D

Goofball said...


Jeanie said...

That sounds delicious -- and really not terribly complicated except for that persevering on the honey whisking! Sounds beautiful -- maybe I'll give that one a try for Easter!

Shan said...

Yum! Welcome back my friend!!

Anonymous said...

I don't really cook, but damned if I don't want to make that salad. Too bad my older kids won't eat it.

Oh said...

Love hearing any thing, any news, any impressions of Italy - and yes, I checked out the restaurant's link. Oh, yes, will try your recipe...looking for pen and paper to copy...welcome back!

Thistlemoon said...

HOW FUN!!!! That is such a great way to celebrate a graduation!!! Great looking salad - going to Italy certainly does change your perspective on food - I know it did for me!