09 September 2008

Deconstructed summer, deconstructed salad

Given that summer never really hit with a bang, and is definitely trying to sneak away from us already, I thought I'd take one last stab at summer-ish recipes.

Here's a "grilled" salad that has been a hit each time we've done it for guests. Gives everyone something to talk about, and lets us all play with our food in a way that even mom wouldn't mind.

(You could easily do this year-round, with or without the grilling part. Nothing wrong with indoor toasted garlic bread!)


To make 4 servings:

4 romaine hearts, or two full size heads of Romaine lettuce
4 slices french bread, about 3/4 inch thick, crusts removed
8 slices bacon (double smoked if you can find it)
Romano or Parmesan cheese (not grated)
2 small to medium-sized cloves garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp pasteurized liquid eggs (if you're not paranoid, use one normal raw egg, but educate yourself first on some raw egg hazards...and don't serve it to me!)
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp good olive oil
2 Tbsp butter, moderately soft (not melted)
salt and pepper

Mix egg, half of garlic, a pinch of salt and black pepper in a glass measuring cup or bowl. Squeeze in juice of lemon, filtering out seeds. Whisk in very slowly 2 Tbsp olive oil (whisk fast, pour oil in very slowly). Set in fridge.

Rinse the heads of romaine lettuce well, then roll each lightly in a clean towel to dry. Remove any damaged or unsightly leaves from the outsides and discard. Pare off the very end of the base of each head of lettuce, but don't pare off bottom. [If using regular heads of lettuce, also slice each head in half lengthwise to create four heads.] Set on a cutting board, and drizzle with 1 Tbsp olive oil, and some fresh black pepper. Set aside.

Cook the bacon slices to moderately crisp. Set on paper towel, then roll up loosely and set aside.

Add half the crushed garlic to about 2 tbsp butter, mix well. Use this mixture to butter each side of the slices of bread. Stack and set aside.

Using a good vegetable peeler or a sharp paring knife, peel off 12 strips of the Romano or Parmesan cheese.

On a hot BBQ, toast the breads to a light golden brown. When one side is brown, flip over. Put lettuce on grill (if full sized heads, lay cut side down).

When breads are toasted and lettuce has singed, remove from heat.

Set one lettuce on each plate. Top with three strips of cheese. Beside each lettuce place 2 strips of bacon and the garlic toast.
Serve dressing in small dish or shot glasses for your guests to pour on their own salad.

A great salad course for any night of the week, and easily adapted to serve more or less people.

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