Wednesday, August 4, 2010

In Praise of Lettuce

Silas enjoying a salad (along with another boiled egg) for lunch

We were with gifted four gorgeous heads of romaine lettuce from our kind neighbors, Emily and Jeff (thank you!). If I had one pinch of their gardening ability, I would count myself very blessed indeed. Alas, I probably have the blackest thumb this side of the Mississippi. Thus, not growing a single thing myself this summer, I was very excited to receive such lovely bounty (before this, I think I may have thought that it was impossible to actually grow lettuce in one's backyard--it just comes from a store, right?). Obviously, we've been eating salads with our lovely lettuce.

I was inspired to recreate one of the very first recipes I ever made. We had the cookbook, In the Kitchen with Rosie, by Rosie Daley, one of Oprah's personal chefs. It was a very influential cookbook for me and the recipe for a mock Caesar salad was one I put together for a cast party potluck after wrapping up a production of Ramona Quimby way back when I was in middle school. Recently, I got my hands on a copy of the treasured cookbook. Feeling nostalgic, I put together my version of the original recipe. Mine has (among other additions) healthy olive oil fat unlike Rosie's did--it was the 90's, the height of fat-free...

Mock Caesar Salad with Homemade Croutons and Garlic Chips

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 clove garlic
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground pepper

Romaine lettuce, washed and torn into bite-sized pieces

3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 slices bread or in my case today, a leftover hamburger bun, torn into small pieces
olive oil
kosher salt

shredded Parmesan cheese

For dressing: On a flat work surface or a small bowl, cut garlic into small pieces. Sprinkle salt over garlic and using the back of a spoon or the blade of a knife scrape the salt into the garlic until you have a thick paste. Combine garlic, mustard, lemon juice and soy sauce in a small bowl. Drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly to form a smooth vinaigrette. Season with freshly ground pepper.

For croutons: Pour a few tablespoons of olive oil into a skillet (enough to cover the bottom). Add garlic pieces and over medium-low heat, slowly saute garlic until it is golden brown and crispy (watch it carefully and stir frequently, you don't want it to get too dark or it will be bitter and irreparable). Remove garlic with a spoon and set aside. Put bread in skillet in a single layer. bread, stirring occasionally until bread cubes are golden brown and toasted. Sprinkle with kosher salt to taste.

To assemble: Toss lettuce with vinaigrette. Top with croutons, reserved garlic chips and Parmesan cheese.

**Oh, and if you think Silas' creation looks more delicious, just dress your lettuce with:
red pepper slices, diced tomato, cucumber, shredded Italian blend cheese, leftover grilled chicken (and of course) a hard boiled egg (whole, not cut up!) and top with Annie's brand Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette!**

1 comment:

  1. Silas needs to give the twins a lesson in eating things that are green and crunchy...wait, he also eats hummus, eggs...they won't touch those either. =)