Saturday, September 27, 2014

perfect butter lettuce salad

I think I have the perfect little French salad--much like the perfect little black dress, it goes with everything, is always appropriate and never goes out of style--such is the classic butter lettuce salad.

I had my first taste of this simply creation several years ago at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco.  So simple as to be deceiving in the flavors, I was determined to recreate it at home and I did.  But of course, over time, other salads from Caesar to arugula to frisee came and went until I was watching one of my favorite chefs, Geoffrey Zakarian talk about butter lettuce as the superior lettuce for both salad and a variety of dishes from burgers to Asian minced lettuce cups--and voila!  My perfect little French salad is back!  Thankfully, it was never really gone for long.

1 head of live butter lettuce (on the roots). Chopped, bagged butter lettuce doesn't work.
Separate leaves, wash and place dry leaves in a bowl.
Splash with small amount of sherry or white wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. (Less than a tbsp or so of each--you can always add more.)
Add small amount of very finely snipped chive. Chervil and parsley may also be used (classic fines herbes blend).  Top with fresh black pepper and a dash of Maldon sea salt.  Toss lightly and serve.

For an extra touch, add toasted/chopped hazelnuts sprinkled on top.