Lettuce Free Salad?
Hard to fathom, but there are people in this world who really don’t like lettuce. When they order their juicy cheeseburgers, it’s “hold the lettuce.” The same for any sandwich, even the iconic Club. And when they’re served unrequested side salads (unless spinach of course), they mine it for extraneous items like tomatoes – leaving behind the lettuce, rejected, wilting on the plate. My husband is a lettuce-loather. Sees no reason for it. But these days, fluffy lettuce salads come flaunting wonderful additions like raisins, pine nuts, slices of bell peppers, carrots julienned, grated cheese… Even meats. The fluffy lettuce, of course, being the vehicle to transport goodies into our inner selves. (Who doesn’t know that?)
So how to get these palate picky people to enjoy your salads? Create one without lettuce. One of chilled florets of cauliflower, broccoli, slivered colorful bell peppers –and of course, tomatoes. Those raisins and pine nuts. Even a handful of pecans festooning the top. But the way to lure all this into their gullets, is with a gleaming luscious dressing, a dressing that pops out the vibrant colors of your art. One with a tiny bit of zip, one that will tease the palate into one forkful after another. And don’t forget topping it off with curls, or petals, of avocado (accomplished by a judicious scooping out with a spoon – so quick and easy). Some don’t like avocado. If the slices are not mixed in, just fanning out atop the artwork, they can be pawned off to dining companions, the aficionados. My husband doesn’t like them, nor does he condone the use of cucumber. My father wouldn’t eat those either – said they gave him the “burning burps.” So the cukes are up to you. I find them weak in this combo.
But don’t eschew the avocados or “alligator pears” (southern speak). They are soooo good, and so good for you. Just ring or top the salad with them.
Here’s my dressing suggestion to start you off:
½ Cup good orange juice; ¼ Cup red wine or rice vinegar ( – or a mix thereof); 1/4 C cold pressed olive oil; 2 T ketchup; 1 T mustard; 1 T honey; optional dash of tabasco; several very thin slices of red onion; 1 T dried tarragon. Salt and pepper. Add a bit of water if it needs thinning or extending. If OJ unavailable, no worries. You can use lemon juice or more vinegar, to make the oil-to-vinegar proportions to your liking.
Mix all this up, sample it and adjust to your own preference. Let it sit and chill and meld for a bit in the refrigerator, before drizzling it onto to your heaping mélange of crudités (for the uninitiated, the French word for raw veggies). This salad, unlike the lettuce ones, can be dressed way ahead of time, and kept chilled.
This would sub for cooked vegetables, on the plate – colorful, easy, and toothsome.
In the past, vegetables occupied what they called “the quiet corner” of the plate. No more. Carnivores might even dig into this beauty first!