Yes, in the midst of the annual sugar season I dare to foist a lettuce salad recipe on your unsuspecting eyeballs. (Trust me, you’ll thank me later for this.) Contrary to the diet regimen of butter, sugar, cream and more butter this time of year….man (and woman) can not subsist on this diet alone. Well, unless you plan on only being able to wear stretch pants (not spandex) and having to give yourself insulin injections on a regular basis.
In between the cookie exchanges and the piles of goodies at your office (yes, you do have to work a few days during December) there are dinner parties to attend and throw (that’s where this butter lettuce salad) comes in.
We eat a lot of salads in this house. Probably because I need to offset things like salted chocolate caramels, Italian sausage bites, homemade baked beans, and the perfect Manhattan. But those are usually ‘meal salads.’ The kind that are a huge plate of mixed lettuce, veggies and some kind of protein on top. Not exactly the kind of salad ideas you’re looking for when you’ll be serving multiple guests at a dinner party. Besides, special occasions call for ingredients that you don’t consume regularly (and no, this does not mean fancy schmancy expensive ingredients either).
A butter lettuce salad, like this, can be made year round but the Winter months are when this particular type of lettuce is at it’s peak (it’s also known as Boston Bibb lettuce). Plus, the leaves are thick and a pretty shade of green that makes you start to daydream about the warmer months (even though we’re only a month or so into the cold weather – we really are an impatient bunch aren’t we).
I’m sure, if you’ve looked around the internet or gone through that stack of cookbooks you have, you’ve seen more than one lettuce salad recipe that caught your eye. But were they really easy salads or something that was easy if you could find the exotic ingredient(s) where you live? I promise you that this lettuce salad recipe is easy to make and just as easy to source the ingredients to make it. In fact, the most difficult part of this salad is stacking it the way you want it to look. And if you’re OCD like me…well, that could be quite painful. But hey, I’ll even give you some tips on doing that. This will definitely be one of those easy salads that you’ll make again and again.
Here are those plating tips I promised you. After you separate all the leaves, toss out the dinged up outer leaves, rinse the remaining leaves and pat them dry, the fun begins. Let them air dry for a few minutes longer (set them on top of a non-terry cloth towel or paper towels) to remove some more moisture. Start with the biggest leaves first and stack biggest to smallest leaves. Stack them on one of the plates you plan to use (this will allow you to see what it will look like when finished). I used 5 leaves for mine. Play with it a bit to see if you want to use 4 or 5 leaves. Maybe you’ll use 6. The number is up to you and how many you’ll be serving and how big the lettuce leaves are that you have. Once you get a look that you like, you’ll start doing the actual plating.
Dip the edges of the first leaf into the dressing (you can leave the center of the leaf uncoated), gently shake off any excess, and lay on the plate. Continue doing this with the rest of the leaves. The final leaf should be completely coated with dressing (shake off excess dressing). Gently insert the pear wedges where they look the nicest. Of course, you need to put a couple on top of the stack too. Do the same thing with the cheese. The perfect stacked butter lettuce salad!
We haven’t played this in a while, and with all the gift giving going on right now I thought it might be time to resurrect: “Is it a kitchen gadget or a sex toy?” The only clues I will give you are that three of these are normally found in the kitchen and three are usually found in the bedroom. Happy guessing.
Recipe: Stacked Butter Lettuce Salad with Pears and Taleggio Dressing Recipe
Summary: Makes 4 salads depending on size of lettuce head
For Salad Dressing
- 3 Tablespoons Champagne Vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons Hazelnut Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Spicy Mustard (I used a good French mustard)
- 1 Shallot (finely diced)
- Small Pieces of Taleggio Cheese (amount is up to you)
- 1 Head Butter Lettuce (cored, rinsed and dried)
- 2 – 3 Seckle Pears (or other pear variety cored and sliced thin)
- Add all ingredients, except for cheese, into a small container.
- Whisk until ingredients are well mixed.
- Dip leaves into dressing and stack (large to small on plates).
- Insert pear slices where they look best.
- Add pieces of cheese to remaining dressing and stir to coat.
- Place pieces of cheese on each salad plate. Either wedged between lettuce leaves or at the base of the salad.
- (For plating tips: see post above)
After cleaned and dried, lettuce leaves can be bagged and chilled. The dressing can also be prepared and chilled before serving. Lettuce will stay fresh up to 2 days once leaves are separated and washed.
You could also add chopped hazelnuts to this salad before serving.
Preparation time: 30 minute(s)
Diet type: Vegetarian
Diet tags: Gluten free
Number of servings (yield): 4
Culinary tradition: USA (General)
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