“Me gusta una ensalada contenta!” were the words Tia Tere, my husband’s aunt, said one evening at a dinner in her home. As soon as she set the dish on the table, she turned and grabbed the bottle of olive oil. As she began to drizzle the oil back and forth, over the entire salad, she looked up at me and excitedly said “Una ensalada contenta!” (A happy salad!) and continued to layer the salad in a thick stream of oil.
An ensalada contenta for my aunt-in-law, is a salad swimming in olive oil and a few dashes of salt, here and there. According to Tia Tere, if you skimp on the olive oil, then you would have one unhappy salad. One would think that a salad coated in olive oil would lose its crisp and have a soggy appearance, such as some salads served in restaurants. Call me strange, but I really dislike eating a salad that is limp and soggy because it was drowned in salad dressing. However, the generous amount of olive oil only enhanced the flavors of our “happy salad,” and the texture of the ingredients were still intact.
These past few weeks, the weather has been uncomfortably hot and humid in our city. With the temperatures boiling and the air static, the last thing I want to do is stand over a hot stove. A simple salad was all I craved to satisfy my hunger. I found all but, three of the ingredients I needed for Tia Tere’s salad at the Farmarsky Trh on the riverside.
This is my favorite farmers market in Prague. You can’t have a prettier location for a market. It’s situated on the bank of the Vltava river and very easy to get to by tram or metro. But I’m quite spoiled, we live just a 5 minute walk away. Not only can you get good quality vegetables, fruits, bread, pastries and other home-made goods, but in the past two years, a variety of food stalls have also arrived. So, when you are done with your grocery shopping, you can also enjoy a beer or a coffee on the riverside with your choice of a fish sandwich, plate of pasta, kolac, burger, spinach pie or good ol’ klobasa.
Back to the salad… The only cooking involved is boiling some eggs and potatoes. I happen to have a thing for boiled potatoes in my salad. I think they are delicious, but of course you need the right blend of ingredients. I could definitely supply you with them. In fact, I believe I could even dedicate a whole month of blog posts to salads with boiled potatoes. In Tia Tere’s salad, the soft and tender potatoes are layered at the bottom of the dish. The rest of the other ingredients of the salad are clearly exposed, so the potatoes can be a pleasant surprise to the unsuspecting eater. (My husband happens to think that the potatoes absorb the oil and this is what keeps the salad from wilting) The most important thing to remember about serving this dish is to make sure you douse it with olive oil. Don’t hold back. Don’t think twice. Just oil it and let-tuce be happy!
Ensalada Contenta (Happy Salad)
1 head of lettuce, chopped
2 carrots, grated
1 large tomato, sliced
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced into fours
3 peeled and boiled potatoes, sliced
a handful or more of green or black olives
1 tin of tuna, preferably with olive oil
plenty of good quality olive oil
salt for taste
Arrange salad in the following order:
Cover the bottom of your dish with your sliced potatoes.
Top with lettuce.
Arrange tomatoes along the side.
Spread tuna all around the dish.
Add the eggs.
Then sprinkle on the carrots.
Add the olives.
Then pour generous amounts of olive oil over the salad.
Sprinkle some salt.
Enjoy with some bread on the side!