This week’s recipe is a tribute to my 89-year-old neighbor, Tullio Saffiotti, a Sicilian immigrant who came here as a young man and established the fine fine wine business in Baton Rouge. He passed away recently. The recipe reminds me of the foods you’d find in the healthy Mediterranean Diet.
Mr. Saffiotti lived three doors down from us in a beautiful manicured home. He was a petite man and was quiet but friendly with a thick accent. We didn’t know him well, but he always acknowledged you. Mr. Saffiotti came here from Sicily in the 1940’s to marry his love. This immigrant became a highly successful business man, known to many in the food and beverage industry as the “Godfather of Fine Wine.”
Mr. Saffiotti’s story reminds me that our country is built on the successes of immigrants. We should welcome them to our country.
Some years ago our local newspaper, the Advocate, wrote an article about his accomplishments and family. Mr. Saffiotti liked to cook and the article included several of his favorite recipes such including “Italian Green Bean Salad.” It was a family favorite, an alternate to a lettuce salad and could be a meal if you added a pound of boiled lobster, shrimp or crawfish.
The Mediterranean Diet
When I looked at this recipe, it struck me that this is a perfect example of the Mediterranean Diet. This diet pattern is full of fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains with very little meat. Chicken, seafood and meat are added as compliments to the meal. The diet is also a lifestyle and healthy way of living. Research has shown that people from this part of the world who follow the diet have lower rates of heart disease and other chronic diseases such as diabetes. Mr. Saffiotti, who lived a very full life until 89-years-old, is an example.
The recipe includes green beans, red potatoes and tomatoes as the main ingredients. Mr. Saffiotti served it with red wine vinegar and olive oil. His recipe includes hard boiled eggs. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly to my tastes and included a very simple Italian Salad Dressing.
I’l glad I cut this recipe and article out of our newspaper and saved it all these years. It makes a fitting remembrance for our dear neighbor. I love the salad and it has become one of our favorite salad recipes, too.
Mr. Saffiotti's Italian Green Bean Salad.
- 2 cups (1 lb) small new red potatoes
- 2 cups (8 oz) fresh green beans
- 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and halved (optional)
- 2 green onions, sliced
- 1/4 cup whole black olives, drained and halved
- 4 escarole lettuce leaves
Ingredients for Italian Salad Dressing:
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried, crushed basil
- 1/3 cup olive oil
Method and Steps:
- Wash the new red potatoes. Add about 4 cups water to medium pot, add potatoes, lightly salt and bring to boil. Cover and lightly boil on stove until tender about 15 minutes. Add more water if needed. Remove from stove, drain and cool. Set aside.
- Steam the fresh green beans in small amount of lightly salted water in pot until but tender but still slightly crisp for about 5 minutes. Drain and cool. Then quarter potatoes and set aside.
- To make salad, arrange escarole leaves on large serving plate. Add green beans to center of plate. Arrange new red potatoes, cherry tomatoes, hard boiled eggs around. Then sprinkle green onions and black olives over top.
- Make salad dressing. Combine red wine vinegar, salt, black pepper and crushed basil in small container. Slowly whisk in olive oil.
- Pour salad dressing over salad and serve.