One of the many delights my husband brought into my life that ranks just below – you know – children, is the Pagliacci salad. On one of our first dates we went to a movie in Seattle, followed by my first trip to Pagliacci Pizza. For those of you who have not sampled its wares, PP is a Seattle-area chain restaurant, and a good one.
Flash forward three years to me as a very pregnant graduate student at the University of Washington. When it came time for my break from a shift on the engineering library reference desk, I would make my ponderous, bulbous way over to the student center where (oh joy!) there was a little Pagliacci outpost where I could get a salad and a slice. I really feel like the final five pounds I managed to acquire just under the wire, (I almost didn’t break 40!) were owed to that pizza and so, to my husband. Thanks honey.
Since pizza is cheesy, I am a believer in coupling it with a large salad. Beer is also good with it, but for different reasons. Last week I had the pleasure of recreating the Pagliacci signature salad to serve with pizza for thirty of my husband’s colleagues. Sadly, there is no PP in Olympia, though Vic’s makes fantastic thin crust pizza. My husband had a hankering for the salad he introduced me to on our long-ago date, and asked me if I would make it for the work party. That night was nineteen years ago, before he knew he would marry me, watch me grow to an alarming girth, and shrink (pretty much) down again -twice – producing charming daughters (and making countless salads).
I think the special flare of this salad comes from basil, garbanzo beans and salami. I have used smoked mozzarella when I omit the salami, which is it just as good, I think. Pagliacci even makes a party size salad for groups, or for one immense pregnant person.
Pagliacci Salad of Destiny
3 hearts of romaine
1 colorful bell pepper
1 pint cherry tomatoes
half a red onion (diced is preferable, rather than sliced, as pictured here)
5 slices of salami, cut into ribbons
pine nuts (my addition, optional but tasty)
1/4 cup shaved parmesan (my addition, optional)
1/2 cup cubed mozzarella (smoked if not using salami)
1 can garbanzo beans
3/4 cup torn basil leaves
1/2 (roughly) cup olive oil
2 teasoons red wine vinegar (I think a 3:1 ratio of olive oil and vinegar works for most people)
1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
salt to taste
pinch of sugar
small garlic clove, minced
You don’t need much in the way of directions. Assemble salad. Assemble dressing. Combine, and eat with gusto. You may want to set a few of the toppings aside and bedeck the salad after you toss it, so all the pretty bits don’t fall to the bottom before you serve it.