‘Life in the kitchen changed with the arrival of Marcella Hazan’s classic Italian cuisine, my mum’s cooking would never be the same. We moved on, Marcella took us in hand. She’s the Italian food writer who has had the largest influence on this British chef’

Fergus Henderson

Insalata di lattuga e gorgonzola

Cos lettuce salad  with Gorgonzola and walnuts

Extract from Marcella Hazan’s

The Second Classic Italian Cookbook Adapted by Anna Del Conte

First published in 1978 in More Classic Italian Cooking

Serves 6-8

Cheese and nuts are good things to bring together. In Emilia-Romagna we sometimes have a little Parmesan with walnuts at the beginning of the meal, to start the salivary juices flowing; or it can close the meal, and help finish off a bottle of Amarone, or Sforzato from Valtellina. Here, we have walnuts and Gorgonzola paired in a salad.

It is a salad that fits perfectly into the traditional Italian meal sequence, after the meat course. Or it can be a satisfying light lunch, in the contemporary English style. Serve, in either case, with good, crusty bread.

1 head cos lettuce (about 450g/1lb)
5tbsp olive oil
1tbsp good wine vinegar
½tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
110g (4oz) Gorgonzola
60g (2oz) shelled walnuts, chopped very coarse

Pull off and discard any of the lettuce’s bruised or blemished outer leaves. Detach the rest from the core, and tear them by hand into bite-sized pieces. Soak in several changes of cold water. Dry thoroughly.

Put the olive oil, vinegar, salt, and a few grindings of pepper into the salad bowl. Beat them two or three times with a fork.

Add half of the Gorgonzola, and mash it well with a fork.

Add half the chopped walnuts, all the lettuce, and toss them thoroughly. Taste and check the seasoning.

Top with the remaining half of the Gorgonzola, cut into small nuggets, and the rest of the chopped walnuts.

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