One of the best things about living abroad is the old-country ambiance that seems to have infiltrated the entire nation. Admit it, when you think “Italy” you think stone streets, gondoliers in Venice, old people with gold teeth and spaghetti with meatballs. And to an extent these American stereotypes of the Italian way of life are on target: most roads in city centers are stoned and not paved, there are an awful lot of rowed boats in Venice, 4 out of 5 people have at least one gold tooth if not a whole set, and…well, I hate to break it to you, but nobody actually eats spaghetti and meatballs in Italy. It can be romantic, but in many aspects, Italy is a backward country.
Take the mail for instance, I only get one English language magazine subscription, but in the two years that I’ve subscribed, it hasn’s once arrived on time. Now, you may think that getting culinary news a month late could be a real disaster, but it’s really a blessing in disguise because by the time you get your Bon Appetit or Cook’s Illustrated, all of the featured foods are in their prime!
This was definitely the case this month when I tried out Bon Appetit’s recipe for Salad with Avocado-Lime Viniagrette and Spicy Pumpkin Seeds. It is so incredibly awesome that I’ve already made the salad twice and the spicy pepitas four times in the last two weeks. Their “viniagrette” is more like a garlicky spicy green goddess dressing than a viniagrette.
The method for the pumpkin seeds is so much easier than the oven-baked version I usually make – BA made the recipe way more complicated than it needed to be – I mean who has chiles de árbol laying around in their pantry? I used some cayenne and a mix of other random spicy things I found in our spice cabinet and they came out great. I made the same substitution in the salad had great results too. I also switched the cilantro that the dressing called for with parsley, which is way easier to find here. Had to leave out the cucumber (Italians DON’T do cucumbers, at least in our neck of the woods) and the jicama (yeah…never seen that around here either…), and I switched the cotija cheese to parmigiano instead.
I guess I made more changes than I thought, but it was still an incredibly wonderful salad – the dressing and the spicy pepitas are the key ingredients, you can change up the other ingredients without any real problem.
I’ve also made some interesting crepe recipe discoveries lately, but that’s another story…