This wonderfully simple and scrumptious salad is anything but boring. Once you try it, I believe it will become an essential addition to your recipe arsenal because a simple salad that tastes more like fine dining can elevate an entire meal. I dare you to serve this salad alongside instant macaroni & cheese see if your diners question their palates.
Bibb lettuce salad found its way to our menu awhile back after looking for the most approachable recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook. The vinaigrette comes together with little effort. It makes ample amounts for several meals and, most important, makes us feel like chefs. “The vinaigrette may be the most important sauce in the cook’s repertoire,” Keller shares, “the idea behind it – combining fat and acid, is simple and the variations are endless.”
I chose to post this recipe during our trip to France because it exemplifies the essence of French cuisine which, at its core, is about enhancing the natural taste of fresh real food with some well-chosen ingredients and a deft hand. I’m writing from a high-speed train traveling between Paris and Aix-en-Provence. Although I’m munching hard a stack of Pringles Originals at the moment, we have just spent five days gorging our way through Paris. I rented an apartment imagining that I’d whip up meals relying on Parisian produce markets and fresh fish stands. Because there are 14,000 restaurants in Paris ready to fill our mouths, I barely made coffee.
Guys, I have to share that this trip exploited all that is perfect about French cuisine and Paris – high end, low end and anything in between is très manifique. After a pastry classwhere my French failed and my appetite succeeded, I learned that butter is as essential as oxygen and sarcasm in France and that powdered food coloring is used in all pastries to appeal to our visual appetite. Say it ‘aint so, Julia. A luxury in Paris is knowing that nearly every restaurant is committed to good food and service – a cultural expectation much like loud talking and over-screening is in the U.S. WHO HAS THE FRIGGIN’ ADAPTER?
Pain du chocolate for breakfast, salade chevre chaud for lunch and dinner at some blogger faves might include a poulet rÃ´ti at night. Our first dinner at Bistrot Paul Bert a included a Grand Marnier soufflé that I will not long forget. Predictable, perhaps, but insanely satisfying. We discovered a handful of neighborhood gems and then capped the five-day feast with at a Michelin 3-star restaurant, which is one of ten 3-stars in Paris alone. To put it into perspective, there are just 12 Michelin 3-star restaurants in all of the US. We were awestruck by every course. Our tastebuds high-fived us at least seven times while our wallets wept.
Food has been the celebration here, but also a diversion because it’s been cold and rainy. We’ve nearly frozen our arrondissements off. Spring has not arrived in France, but we’re heading south to visit family and to the ten-degree improvement in temperature we say bienvenue.
bibb lettuce salad/ salade de laitue
Every time I serve this salad, the family raves. The vinaigrette ably dresses any lettuce combination or even shaved vegetables for salad, such as fennel or brussel sprouts. The key is to blend long enough to get a strong emulsion of the ingredients. Combining herbs as suggested offers pique flavors, but is not essential. Use similar herbs that are easiest to find, but commit to including chives.
preptime: 15 minutes 4 servings
- 4 heads Bibb lettuce
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (I prefer Maldon salt)
- 2 Tbsp minced shallots
- 2 Tbsp minced chives
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup tarragon leaves
- 1/4 cup chervil leaves
- 1/2 cup House Vinagrette (see below)
- 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
- Cut out the core from each head of lettuce and separate the leaves, but keep each head of lettuce together; discard any tough outer leaves. Place the leaves in a bowl of cold water to refresh them and remove any dirt, then lift out and spin-dry in a salad spinner.
- Place the leaves from a single head of lettuce in a bowl. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt, a few grinds of pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the shallots and chives, and 1 Tbsp each of the parsley, tarragon and chervil.
- Toss gently with 2 Tbsp of the vinaigrette and 1 tsp of lemon juice.
- Repeat with the remaining heads.
- For each serving, arrange the outer lettuce leaves as a base on the plate and rebuild each head of lettuce, ending with the smallest, most tender leaves.
For the vinaigrette:
- 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 cups canola oil
- Combine the mustard and vinegar in a blender and blend at medium speed for about 15 seconds.
- With the machine running, slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of the oil. Don’t be tempted to add all the oil to the blender or the vinaigrette will become too thick. It should be very creamy.
- Transfer the vinaigrette to a small bowl and, whisking constantly, slowly stream in the remaining 1 cup oil.
- According to Keller, the dressing can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, but I keep mine for over a month.
- Should the vinaigrette separate, use a blender or immersion blender to re-emulsify it.
recipe from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon cookbook and provided by your friends at crunchtimefood.com