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Street salad (Insalata di strada)
Crunchy leaves with homemade Sicilian blood orange dressing
“Inspired by traditional market stall grub, this kinda-dressed potato salad is absolutely gorgeous ”
3 tablespoons good-quality white wine vinegar or herb vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
1 good pinch dried oregano
2 tablespoons capers , washed if using salted, chopped if large
freshly ground black pepper
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In Palermo there's a night market called Il Borgo, where all the locals gather to eat at little stalls selling things like chickpea fritters, boiled baby octopus and some stuff that you wouldn't want to eat, like gizzards, spleen and other dirty wobbly things! A lot of the veg stalls have massive cauldrons of boiled potatoes and artichokes to serve to their customers – I guess you could say this is the original fast food – and they tasted absolutely brilliant.
Some of the stalls also make a version of this salad, which is absolutely delicious. They tend to dress it and have it hanging around for quite some time so it becomes a bit sloppy and past its best, but the principle of the salad is fantastic and all the locals absolutely adore it. In Sicily you can get these terrific Cedro lemons which are mainly pith and they are amazing in salads – but you may not be able to get hold of them. In this case I wouldn't recommend you use normal lemons as the flavour is quite different.
The way potatoes are cooked in Sicily is very long and very slow, on a low simmer with plenty of salt in the water. This is a fantastic method of making normal potatoes soft and floury, but in the case of new potatoes it would be a crime. So add them to fast-boiling salted water, as this will help retain a lot of their flavour, and cook them till nice and tender. The softer you can get them while still holding their shape, the better. While the potatoes are cooking, wash all your salad leaves and put them into a nice big bowl with the mint and fennel. If using a Cedro lemon, add the slices to the salad at this point.
For the dressing, mix the orange juice and vinegar in a glass jar or bowl with about twice as much extra virgin olive oil. Add the oregano and capers and season to taste with salt and pepper. Give it a good mix and have a taste. Don't forget that you want the flavour to be a little over the top, so that by the time you've dressed the salad with it and it has mixed with all the other flavours it's perfect because it's become more subtle. Drain the potatoes when cooked, then allow them to steam in a colander for 5 minutes. Throw them into the salad while still warm and toss together well. Absolutely fantastic – great with a plate of grilled fish or as a lunchie salad on its own.