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Dining Tip: Insalata Mista

A perfectly simple Italian first course

Posted: October 22, 2012

Note: This recipe, courtesy of Culina, in the Four Seasons Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, originally appeared in the June 30, 2012 issue of Wine Spectator.

• 2 ounces asparagus
• 4 baby artichokes
• Royal trumpet mushrooms
• 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
• 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
• Salt and pepper
• 4 ounces wild arugula
• 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, shaved into thin ribbons

1. Clean the asparagus, artichokes and mushrooms. Using a mandoline, shave the vegetables into paper-thin slices, and reserve.

2. In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. In a large bowl, combine the shaved vegetables, vinaigrette, arugula and Parmigiano-Reggiano. Mix well.

4. Divide the salad among 4 plates, and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Notes on the recipe:
The best thing about this recipe is that it is infinitely adaptable. Once you have the basic idea, you can toss in whatever great produce you find at the farmers market.

Simple food can be more challenging to prepare than long braises and sauced dishes because they're so transparent. In this dish the vegetables aren't cooked, so they must be pristine and fresh. Don't even refrigerate them.

Use only the best olive oil for this dish. The oil is not a fat or lubricant, but a primary flavor. Taste the oil by itself first, and experiment with different types. You may prefer peppery oils, but they might be too much with the arugula. If that's the case, swap in a different lettuce or try a more buttery oil.

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