The first time I sat down for a light lunch with fashion-conscious (and weight-conscious) Spaniards, I couldn’t believe my eyes. The salad was piled high on a dinner plate, almost overflowing the sides. And that was just for me — and there were 2 other equally laden plates for my friends. I looked at these 2 skinny women thinking “Are you kidding me? You’re going to eat all that?” But they did. And I did. And even more interesting than the sheer quantity of the salad was the ingredients. Many Spaniards — especially around the Valencia region — consider high quality canned tuna, boiled eggs, canned corn, and cornichons (sweet ‘n sour tiny pickles) to be the building blocks of every salad. I’m still not a fan of corn in my salad, but I’m pretty well hooked on the other things. So try this out on a hot summer day. I think you’ll become a fan too.
Iceberg lettuce (but I never use iceberg I prefer romaine or whatever looks good at the market)
High quality mediterranean tuna, in olive oil
Canned corn – small can
Cornichons or other tiny sweet / sour pickles
White asparagus spears
Fresh Carrot – grated
Cucumber – peeled & sliced
Pineapple – cut into bite-sized pieces
Or Whatever Else Suits Your Fancy
Break up the lettuce and place in a large bowl or on a large dinner plate. Top with other ingredients. The custom in Spain is to place each of the ingredients on top of the lettuce in a separate area. For example, you’d see a plate of lettuce with a pile of grated carrots on one side, and next to that a nice arrangement of white asparagus spears, then beside that a little area of boiled egg diced in large pieces, etc. Then everyone at the table can select the ingredients that they prefer. Sprinkle with a little bit of salt, Italian mixed herbs, and drizzle with high quality extra virgin olive oil and any type of vinegar that you prefer. Buen Provecho!
Wine: This can be a little tricky. If you’re using vinegar, you’ll want to be careful what wine you choose. After all, what is vinegar? In many cases it’s wine “gone bad.” In general, go light on the vinegar and with the tuna in this salad, I’d try a Verdejo or Albariño. Mostly you´ll just need to experiment a bit until you find the pairing you like best.