Friday, April 25, 2014

Butter Lettuce Salad with Radish, Carrot, and Mint

The farmer's market is becoming a more colorful and abundant place each week, and on a recent visit I noticed some beautiful red butter lettuce that inspired this salad. There's nothing wrong with regular butter lettuce. In fact, it's way up there in terms of my favorite kind of leafy thing. Both red and green butter lettuce have crunchy ribs, velvety leaves, and mild flavor that pair well with everything from carrot miso dressing, to garlicky sun dried tomato dressing.

I sliced the veggies thin and delicately so that their flavor was imparted without competing in texture to the robust lettuce leaves. Fresh mint added that extra something fresh and herbaceous. Fresh dill, or even flat leaf parsley would also work really well.

These veggies were cut on a mandoline. My personal favorite is of the Japanese variety. It costs about $25-$30 depending on where you get it, and it soon becomes a favorite tool in the kitchen. Although wonderful, a mandoline is a terrifying device. Impatience and bravado will lead you to slice things without a guard, but this is unwise. Make sure you are very guarded. Never slice things in a hurry, or without total and complete attention. The danger is worth it. The nearly translucent veggies are incredibly attractive and so pleasing the eat.

If you don't have a mandoline, channel your inner zen master and slice the radishes and carrots super thin. Heck, you could even choose to grate these guys instead of slice them. The world is your oyster.

Butter Lettuce Salad with Radish, Carrot, & Mint with Dijon Red Wine Vinaigrette
Serves 6

for the salad
1 large head red butter lettuce, or 2 small heads, washed and dried
1 small super fresh carrot, sliced very thin
5-6 large radishes, sliced very thin
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

for the vinaigrette
1 heaping teaspoon dijon mustard
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon of honey
1/2 clove garlic, minced super fine, or pressed
1/2 small shallot, minced fine
salt and pepper
1/3 cup good quality olive (or grapeseed oil)

Wash and dry your lettuce. Slice or gently tear the leaves into large pieces. Slice your carrots and radishes. Chop your fresh mint. Add everything to a large salad bowl.

In a small bowl, add the mustard, red wine vinegar, honey, garlic, shallot, and salt and pepper. Whisk everything together and taste the mixture. Adjust according to your preferences. Slowly whisk in the oil. Taste the dressing by dipping a lettuce piece into it. Does it need more oil? More mustard? More honey? More garlic? Adjust your dressing to your liking.

When you are ready to serve the salad, season it lightly with salt. Toss. Add some of the dressing. Gently toss the salad (ideally with your hands), add more dressing if you think it needs it. Serve with meat, fish, pasta, pizza, or any complimentary dinner entrée.