Recently, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting and cooking with, the Indian master of Italian cooking and the “Travelling Diva,” Ritu Dalmia, herself. Having a mother who is a complete ‘Italianophile’ (if there is such a word, but you know what I mean) means that I watch David Rocco’s Dolce Vita and Rick Stein’s Mediterranean adventures on TV very often. When you put together the essence of what all of these chefs say, it can be understood that Italian cooking is less about method, cooking, and technique and more about the choicest and freshest ingredients you can find. In fact Ritu Dalmia has been often quoted as saying that she is a fake chef – that she really does nothing, the credit should all go to the ingredients she uses.
In India, Italian cooking has been associated with cream and cheese for the longest time. It has also been said that Italian meals are very heavy for the same reason, and so much of olive oil cannot possibly be healthy! In reality, however, Italian food is one of the healthiest you can find when we do not go by the cheese/ double cheese/ cheese burst pizzas that are passed off as “Italian” by Dominoes and Pizza Hut all over the country. In Italy, cheese may be rarely used on pasta and pasta may not be the main course at all but a small helping before the main course, usually grilled sea food. Now, a time has come where olive oil is considered to be the best oil to use and no matter what you make with it, the food will be healthy. Undoubtedly, olive oil is very healthy but what we Indians do not consider is that there are other much healthier eating habits Italians have that make them so fit and strong. Their lifestyle and climate contribute to this. For instance, Italians consider food to be worshipworthy. So a meal will be always be a family affair and they will not do anything else while eating. Munching a burger for lunch while driving to work is equivalent to blasphemy! All these rules that may seem quirky to foreigners actually aid their digestion and make them the healthy people that they are today.
I have always found Italian food to be very romantic just for the reason that it is very simple to throw together and yet looks so pretty with all the vibrant colors. A salad, especially is so easy toss and the dressings are usually very low calorie. This Orange Black Olive salad is one such, by David Rocco. All you need to do is cut up some chunks of oranges and toss them with some pitted whole black olives. You add some olive oil, dry oregano and salt and pepper and have a simple but extremely flavorful peasant salad. One important step is to use fresh juicy oranges and to cut them up in chunks. If whole orange segments are used, you will not get all the flavors and textures of the salad in one bite. I have not given any quantity as this salad is can be experimented upon and made to order just as you like.
David Rocco’s Orange Black Olive Salad
Oranges, peeled and cut into chunks
Whole black olives, pitted
Olive oil (I used orange infused olive oil)
Salt and pepper
Toss together all the ingredients. Keep it in the refrigerator for ½ an hour. Serve cold.