With winter behind our backs (insert effervescent happy dance here), it’s time to get those big platters of salad joining us at the kitchen table. Two examples of our recent past were particularly tasty, so I share them with you today. The first one is all about the dressing. The second brings two interesting twists. Well, at least I think they are interesting… let’s see if you agree!
BOSTON LETTUCE SALAD WITH AVOCADO DRESSING
(inspired by Pati’s Mexican Table)
2 ripe avocados halved, pitted and meat scooped out
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher or coarse sea salt or more to taste
2 heads boston lettuce leaves separated, washed, dried, and torn into pieces
grape tomatoes, halved (as many as you’d like)
1/3 cup cashew nuts, lightly toasted
freshly ground black pepper and salt to taste
Combine the avocado, milk, cream, lime juice and salt in a blender and puree until smooth.
Place the lettuce and tomatoes in a generous-sized serving bowl, and toss with the dressing until everything is lightly coated. Sprinkle with the toasted cashews, adjust seasoning with salt, add a good amount of freshly ground black pepper all over, and serve.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: Am I the only one who finds Boston lettuce the most gorgeous green ever? I don’t think it gets the love it deserves. The leaves are smooth, delicate, and each bundle is perfect for a single serving. Nature-made portion control.
Pati’s original version is a bit more elaborate than mine, but, even on a more austere version with only tomatoes and cashews, this dressing leaves a bright note. Creamy, almost herbal, refreshing but luscious. I had dressing leftover and next day enjoyed drizzled over… roasted carrots! Talk about a big twist… After I polished it off, regretted not snapping a picture. But, you can use your imagination. Looked pretty nice, tasted even better!
Now, moving on to the second salad. I was watching The Kitchen on FoodTV the other day, and Sunny Anderson said that she often uses the seasoned oil left behind from grocery store marinated olives to incorporate in pesto type sauces. I registered that idea, and then decided to use it as part of salad dressing. I had purchased a small container with olives and cubed feta, and not much was left. Olives and feta pieces became part of the salad, and the seasoned oil got whisked with some sherry vinegar. See the outcome below:
SPINACH SALAD WITH FETA, OLIVES & PROSCIUTTO CRISPS
(from the Bewitching Kitchen)
big bunch of baby spinach leaves
thick slices of mozzarella cheese
yellow tomatoes, cut any way you like
mixture of kalamata and feta from grocery store
seasoned oil, drained from olive mix
sherry vinegar (eye-ball, 1/3 volume of oil)
salt and pepper to taste
4 prosciutto slices
Make prosciutto crisps by laying the slices over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Place in 425 F oven for a few minutes, until moisture evaporates and it gets crisp. Flip the slices to crisp both sides. Remove and let them cool over paper to absorb excess oil. Reserve.
Assemble the salad with spinach leaves at the bottom of the platter, add all ingredients on top, drizzle with dressing. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Crumble pieces of cool prosciutto crisps.
to print the recipe, click here
Comments: If your grocery store doesn’t sell those containers with marinated olives, move. Just kidding. You can make the dressing yourself, just add some herbs to olive oil, such as oregano, thyme, to give it more flavor. The prosciutto crisps are so delicious, they are actually the second interesting twist I mentioned. They offer a very nice crunch to the salad, much like nuts would do. Or those incredibly addictive crispy chow-mein goodies that are not allowed in our home. I have zero power against those. Once the can is open, it all goes downhill. Fast. Anyway, as far as indulgences go, prosciutto crisps are not that bad. Four slices are more than enough for a salad made for two, with some bits to keep you happy while getting the salad ready. And, by the way, speaking of indulgences, if you’d like to take this salad over the top, use burrata instead of mozzarella…
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