Donatella Arpaia has fond memories of a dramatic salad.
I grew up in the restaurant business. My father had a restaurant for 40 years in Long Island called La Tavernetta, Arpaia, a lawyer turned restaurateur and Food Network Iron Chef judge, said in an e-mail interview. He was famous for his Caesar salad, which his waiters prepared tableside. I loved the drama, and the taste was so delicious I still salivate.
I have tried to replicate that dressing but still have not achieved that taste memory (yet), she said.
Following the European custom, Arpaia prefers her salads as a side, not a meal in itself. And its best served after the main course.
For APs 20 Salads of Summer series, Arpaia offered a marinated zucchini salad inspired by a dish her mother served when she was a child.
Growing up, my mother served this classic Puglian dish of basically fried or grilled zucchini discs with mint, garlic and vinegar whenever she had guests over, Arpaia said. She prepared it on a platter. It was great because the longer it sat in the marinade, the better it was.
When I was developing my menu for Donatella Restaurant, I wanted to have this dish on the menu in some form, she said. My chef, who knows how much I love arugula, suggested we transform this dish into a salad.
Its become one of our best sellers!