Cinque Tere consists of five small villages (“cinque terre” means “five lands” in Italian) which cling to the Ligurian cliffs along Italy’s western coast. They are usually thought of and visited collectively, mostly because they’re so close to one another that you can walk from the first to the fifth in a matter of hours, but there are five different towns and each does have its own personality. Cinque Terre is a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the rugged Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces, harbors are filled with fishing boats and trattorias turn out seafood specialties along with the Liguria region’s famous sauce, pesto. The Sentiero Azzurro cliffside hiking trail links the villages and offers sweeping sea vistas.
When I was away in Turkey at the beginning of the summer, Lisa visited her friend in San Rafael and returned with the recipe for this salad. Like most salads, this can be a simple recipe, although the taste of it will linger with you and make you want to eat more. In the summer we made this or tabbouleh at least once a week since it is so easy and so flexible, using pretty much the vegetables we had on hand. The two classic dishes from which this recipe derives are Mideastern tabbouleh salad and Italian pasta with pesto, usually linguine, tortellini or even spaghetti. Because it is so tasty and so classic, there are many riffs on the basic recipe. One direction is to go toward Tabbouleh by adding mint ant parsley to the recipe, even adding feta cheese or even make the pesto from these herbs. The other direction is to make pesto from herbs other than basil, like arugula or spinach and to add pine nuts to the recipe. Because I like things simple, I will present the basic recipe and allow my readers to experiment with their own variations.