Remember about a month ago, when I was talking about the rain and the low temperatures? Well, that's definitely all gone and forgotten. Summer, my friends, is here. Needless to say, the same people that were complaining about the chill and the rain are currently busy bitching about the heat because, apparently, absolutely nothing will make them happy. The temperatures, by the way, are not even that high yet. And at night it's breezy and downright perfect. Seriously, people, don't you have better things to complain about?
As for me, I'm loving every minute of it. Summers in the city have always been my thing. Eating gelato every afternoon. Vowing to try new flavors, but always ending up getting strawberry and yogurt. Picking the sidewalk that's in the shade. Stopping under a tree to take a break from the sun. Sitting at outdoor bars and restaurants, drinking chilled white wine or draft beer. Ordering iced espresso at the end of the meal.
But most of all, what I enjoy about summers in the city is the idea that —if you want— you can leave it behind and go to the beach, to the lake, to the mountains. Milano has many flaws and one great asset among others: it's close to everything. In under two hours, driving on nice wide highways, you can immerse yourself in whatever scenery your heart desires. Everyone you know has a vacation home close enough to the city that you can consider going there just for the day, to spend a lazy Sunday away from the noise and chaos. Which is exactly what we all do on summer weekends and holidays. We go to someone's house, we cook, we drink, we play Trivial Pursuit laying in the grass, belly up, digesting our lunch in the shade. That's what we did on June 2nd, the day of the republic, a holiday that is perfect for grilling and chilling with friends. I prepared many dishes for the occasion, but the biggest hit of the day definitely was the potato salad, which doesn't surprise me because who doesn't love potato salad? And this one, coming from the June issue of Cooking Light magazine, is especially good because it has no mayo in it. Which means that, on a hot summer day, you don't have to freak out and wonder if the mayo is going bad and if you'll poison your guests.
POTATO AND ARUGOLA SALAD
Adapted from Cooking Light
2 pounds yellow potatoes cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 teaspoons stone-ground mustard
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper2 1/2 cups loosely packed arugula
Place potato pieces in a medium saucepan; cover with cold water, bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and gently simmer 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Drain potatoes.
Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Combine onion, vinegar, mustard, lemon rind, lemon juice, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Gradually add remaining oil, stirring constantly with a whisk until combined. Drizzle dressing over warm potatoes; toss gently to coat. Cool completely.
Add arugula to potato mixture; toss gently. Serve immediately.