Insalata dell’Orso

For those of you who speak a little Eye-talyun, don’t worry: this is not a bear salad. It is a salad inspired by one of my best and most favorite meals ever, at Bar dell’Orso in Monteriggioni, Italy.

After finishing off that massive slab of beef we bought from the Tuscan Butcher, we were looking for a simple dinner out. Based on guidebooks, online reviews, and our hostess Serena, we knew that this was the place locals (and savvy tourists) went to eat. Since we were savvy tourists, of course this was the perfect place for us! There were, however, a few wrinkles.

Like the fact that Bar dell’Orso does not have menus. Or waitresses that speak English. Luckily, this was at the end of the trip and I managed to come up with “vino rosso” and hold up four fingers. While we waited on the (always excellent) table wine, we regrouped. My friend Chris requested some type of meat, preferably chicken. The rest of us were flexible.

The waitress returned and said something that I translated roughly as, “What are you savvy tourists interested in eating this evening?” I looked at her hopefully and asked, “Pollo?” She shook her head, “Non.” Everyone looked at me. I looked at the waitress again and she rattled off what sounded like a list of entrees. All I caught was “wild boar.” Chris’s expression told me he was not interested in wild boar. Hmmm…

And then our waitress said the magic word, “Antipasti?” Followed by, “Prosciutto, formaggio…” and a bunch of other stuff. I frantically nodded yes and held up four fingers. Our waitress cocked her eyebrow and held up two fingers. I insisted by holding up four fingers again. She shrugged and headed back to the kitchen. About fifteen minutes later, this landed on our table:


Yeah, should have gone for two fingers worth. The prosciutto and Tuscan salami kinda ruined me forever, it was so dang good. And the sun-dried tomatoes and artichokes were unreal. Oil-packed veggies may not be as good for you but I say the calories are worth it. So, when I saw some super-sized bottles in Costco recently, I knew I was set for an inspired salad…


Insalata dell’Orso (serves 2)


2 big handfuls of salad greens

1/4 cup chopped oil-packed, sundried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped marinated artichoke hearts

2 tbsps pine nuts

1/4 cup feta (okay, if you want to be all eye-talyun then use something else)

1 tbsp quality vinegar

Combine toppings and vinegar in your salad bowl. (The oil from the veggies mixed with the vinegar gives you a light dressing.) Throw in your salad greens and mix it all up. Pile on your plate and top with some ground black pepper.

Buon appetito, y’all!

Categories: Recipes, Salads, Travel Grub | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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