In celebration of our birthdays this past summer, we had BIG plans. It was to be three weeks in Italy and we could easily see ourselves in bustling piazzas and cozy cafes. We would take in art, food, and wine until we were exhausted, stuffed and tipsy, then do it all over again the next day. Airfare was booked. Travel books were bought. Research was done. Excitement was building.
I’m sure you can sense where this is going…sadly, we didn’t go. There was no wine-tasting in Tuscany, or staring in awe at David, or taking in the amazing views off the Cinque Terre. Instead we spent our birthdays in Sonoma. (That’s not as bad as it sounds!)
Now I know that Sonoma for Italy probably doesn’t seem like an even trade, and obviously it’s not, but I can tell you that our Sonoma visit stands out to me as one of those days that I will always remember.
Instead of sweeping coastal views, we took in gorgeous vineyards. And instead of Chianti, we drank Pinot Noir. But the good company, the conversation, the laughter and love; we have those no matter where we are. And for whatever reason, it seemed like we had them ten-fold that day.
We still bemoan the fact that we weren’t able to go to Italy, but in it’s place, I have a wonderful, albeit very different, memory. And one day soon, we will get there. In the meantime, we can brush up on useful Italian phrases, learn more about Italian wine, and eat all the Italian food we want.
Antipasti Bread Salad
1 cup salami chunks
1 cup quartered marinated mozzarella balls
1 cup canned white beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed and chopped
1/2 cup halved La Romanella* Manzanilla olives
1/2 cup sliced La Romanella peperoncini, stems removed
1/3 cup chopped La Romanella fire-roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon parsley
5 cups cubed French bread (day old is best)
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
In a large bowl, mix together first 9 ingredients and reserve.
In another bowl, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients and reserve.
In a large pan, heat 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When hot, toss bread cubes in pan to coat with oil. Season with pepper. Continue tossing bread until it is well-toasted, about 10-15 minutes. (Drizzle more oil as necessary to coat bread completely as it toasts.) Once done, add the bread cubes immediately to the antipasti mixture and toss with vinaigrette. Stir well to combine. Let sit for about 5 minutes to let the bread soak up the vinaigrette and soften.
(Tempted as you may be to season bread cubes with salt, don’t! The other ingredients are plenty salty. Yes, I learned that the hard way.)
*La Romanella products are available at Smart & Final stores.
This dish is my attempt to meld all my favorite things from an antipasto platter into one. The salad has all the briny flavors that you’d expect, with creamy cheese, salty salami and toasted bread to soak it all up. Pair it with your favorite bottle of Italian wine and imagine you’re relaxing in a villa.
For those of us who can’t get to Italy, how about a trip to Sonoma? As part of the #LaRomanella promotion, Smart & Final is giving away a trip to wine country! Just go “like” them here, and enter to win. (Winner must live within a 20-mile radius of a Smart & Final store.)
This project has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for #collectivebias. All opinions are my own.