This quick and easy salad, Insalata di Rinforzo is said to “reinforce” the very light, lean, meatless Cena della Vigilia di Natale, Christmas Eve dinner. A cold salad made of boiled cauliflower, it is adorned with red and green peppers and green and black olives like ornaments on a snow-covered Christmas tree.

Our cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving, Insalata di Rinforzo is a must have on the Neapolitan Christmas Eve dinner table and its preparation is a snap. Served cold it can last from Christmas to New Years and can be thrown on the table at a minutes notice. Another reason it may be called Insalata di Rinforzo, just reinforce it with ingredients that have been eaten away and serve.

Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.
Did Peter Piper pick a peck of pickled peppers?
If Peter Piper Picked a peck of pickled peppers,
Where’s the peck of pickled peppers Peter Piper picked?

Sottoaceto, under vinegar or pickled, the salad takes its flavor from olives and pickled papaccelle peppers. A variety of red and green peppers that are local to the Campania region, papaccelle are small, round, hot peppers pickled in vinegar. A nice salty flavor is added with acciughe sotto sale, salted anchovies.


1 head of cauliflower
2 – 3 red and green papaccelle peppers – jarred pickled peppers can be used as a substitute
200 grams mixed green and black olives
Salted Anchovies


Cut the green leaves and the stem from the cauliflower
Boil in salted water until tender, 15 – 20 minutes
Drain the cauliflower and when it is cool enough to handle, break it up into bite size flowerets
Remove the seeds and slice the peppers
Add sliced peppers and olives to taste and toss
Condition with oil, vinegar and salt to taste and toss well
Top with anchovies

Buon Appetito!

More about Christmas in Naples