Lidia Bastianich uses contrasting flavors and textures to make this upscale Italian starter.
- 1 pound sweet onions, such as vidalia or walla walla
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 12 ounces red-bliss potatoes, medium in size
- 8 ounces green beans, trimmed
- ½ cup pitted black olives
- 3 tablespoons drained tiny capers in brine
- 1 or 2 fresh ripe tomatoes (about 8 ounces) cored and cut into wedges
- 1 or 2 heads bibb lettuce (about 12 ounces) leaves torn, washed, and dried
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
For the verdure cotta (cooked vegetables): Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Peel and trim the onions and slice into rounds about ¾ inch thick. Brush with some of the olive oil, and sprinkle salt lightly on both sides. Lay the onions on a baking sheet, and roast for 20 minutes or longer, until slightly softened and nicely caramelized. Cool, then separate the rounds into rings.
Meanwhile, drop the potatoes-whole, with skin on, into a pot with plenty of water. Bring to a gentle boil, and cook just until a sharp knife blade slides through the potatoes. Remove with a spider, and cut the potatoes into wedges about 1 ½ inches thick.
When the potatoes are out of the boiling water, drop the green beans in and cook until al dente, 4 minutes or so. Drain, and drop the beans into ice water to set the color. One they're chilled, drain and dry the beans, and cut into 2 inch lengths.
Combine the cooked vegetables in a large serving bowl with the olives, capers, and tomatoes. Sprinkle with the remaining salt and some freshly ground pepper, drizzle the rest of the olive oil and the red wine vinegar over vegetables, and tumble them to coat with dressing. Scatter the lettuce on top, then toss to distribute evenly. Serve immediately.