We’ve been hit hard by Olympic fever—gymnastics, volleyball, swimming, even dressage. Perched on the edge of our seats, we’re glued to the action—alternately gnawing at our nails and cheering our hearts out. We love the games not just for the athletic feats, but the connection with brilliant flags and compelling personalities across the globe, too. Red, white and blue. And more.
National colors inspire us this week. In the kitchen even. Unfortunately, the American ones are somewhat limiting. Blue food? The options are quickly exhausted. No matter—we’re drawn to the stories from far-off countries as easily as those close to home. Especially where vegetable-hued banners of red, white and green fly high.
What could be more patriotic than a salad in the colors of the flag? First stop, Italy. Besides winning seven medals in fencing, this country boasts a few flag-colored platefuls. Insalata Caprese—sliced tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves laid shoulder to shoulder, then drizzled lightly with olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. The formula is spare, while the flavor is anything but.
Then there’s panzanella a dish that partners crisp cucumbers and tomatoes with white bread cubes to soak up every bit of sweet juice. Sometimes the colors in the bowl expand beyond the triad in the spirit of international sportsmanship. Black olives, yellow pepper or orange Sungold tomatoes.
We’ve turned to Iran for wrestling gold and another tomato-cucumber combo, Salad-e Shirazi (pictured at the top of the page), named for the ancient Persian city of Shiraz, with its connection to wine and poetry. And we can’t forget that red-white-and-green country just south of our borders. A simple Mexican sauté of corn (the palest kernels), green pepper and tomatoes celebrates diving and archery.
We could happily cook on and on, inspired by three simple colors in the kitchen. The ingredients boast national pride, as well as culinary simplicity. No training, and barely a recipe, is required for these dishes, so there’s plenty of time left to cheer on the games. And relish the food.
For this week’s recipes, click on any of the blue links in the text above…