The hubby and I and our dear friends signed up for Celia’s cooking and painting class in Venice via the Internet ahead of our vacation there in September 2002. How fun to shop at a local market and learn how make Italian specialties from a local, we thought. Imagine our surprise when it turned out that Celia was from Fort Wayne, Indiana. She had moved to Italy many years ago as a young art student and two husbands and one child later, she was still there. In fact, she used the apartment of one of her ex-husband’s for her cooking class business. Nonetheless, the four of us had a blast making raviolis and gnocchi from scratch and this simpler than simple salad. Over lunch we learned that Celia was off to the States to cook Hannukah dinner for her latest boyfriend. We gave her detailed instructions on how to make potato latkes.                         

        I don't know the portions. I just use equal amounts of:

        baby arugula

        Trim away any tough stems from the arugula (baby arugula is probably small enough to leave the leaves whole, but tear if necessary for easy eating).  Trim the fennel and then julienne.  Tear the radicchio into bite-size pieces.

        Mix the lettuces together and grind sea salt (Kosher salt is fine) and black pepper to taste. Squeeze fresh lemon and toss. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over the greens. (It is important to toss first with the fresh lemon juice, before adding the olive oil.) Shave fresh Parmesan cheese over it and serve. 

        This taste of Italy is easy as American apple pie and always a hit.

        Penny Pollack is the dining editor of Chicago Magazine and the co-author with Jeff Ruby of Everybody Loves Pizza.

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