Chrissy Teigen titled her Cravings salad chapter, “Salads (For When You Need Them),” and I really feel that in my soul. To be honest, at home, I don’t eat a lot of salads. There, I said it! When it comes to lunch, I will always opt for some sort of grain bowl, leftovers from dinner or a sandwich if I have a choice. But we all have moments when the need for lettuce is real. Mine typically follow a weekend wine & cheese bender that might or might not include a trip to Flannigan’s… It happens!
When I do want to lighten things up, I still want big flavor. Enter Gremolata Salad. Gremolata is an Italian accompaniment traditionally made of parsley, garlic and lemon. Sometimes it has other herbs, nuts and/or breadcrumbs and while I would eat it on just about anything, it’s usually served over meat or fish. Here, I’m turning gremolata into salad dressing and making lettuce more exciting. This salad makes for a great light lunch with chicken or fish, or a lovely side to an Italian main dish like pasta… With wine… And cheese… It’s called balance, right?
- 1 shallot, thinly sliced
- juice and zest of 1 lemon
- freshly cracked black pepper
- ½ cup walnut halves
- 2 stalks celery with their leaves
- 1 small head green gem lettuce*
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped mint
- 3 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil*
Preheat the oven to 350° F.
In a large mixing bowl (you’ll toss the whole salad in this later, so make sure it’s big enough), combine the shallots, lemon juice, lemon zest, a sprinkle of salt and black pepper to taste. No oil yet! The lemon juice will soften the shallots and mellow their flavor. Set aside.
Scatter the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast on the top rack in the oven. They will likely need five minutes, but start checking after three, as they will burn quickly once they start to color. Remove when fragrant and golden brown.
Meanwhile, thinly slice the celery. You can run your knife all the way up through the leaves. They’ll add more flavor! Thinly slice the lettuce, and finely chop the walnuts once they’ve cooled a bit.
Then, add the olive oil to your dressing and mix well with a fork. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the bowl and toss to combine. Transfer to a platter and serve immediately.
– Gem lettuce is my favorite lettuce. You can find it on its own, or in the Artisan Lettuce box. If you can’t get it, romaine works just fine!
– When it comes to olive oil, I keep two on hand. One is my everyday cooking olive oil, and the other is my “good olive oil,” which is pricier and much more flavorful. When I am using it raw, in salads or drizzled over something like burrata for example, I like to use the good stuff!