Since yesterday was Valentine’s Day and I really wanted to write that post, so it pushed back my Wine & Dine Wednesday post by a day, but I think it will be worth the wait. While in San Francisco a few weeks back, I was invited by one of my fab blog readers in Berkeley, to join her for dinner at Chez Panisse. The evening was sublime on so many levels, with many lovely memories. What I want to share is one of the more perfectly simple yet sophisticated all at the same time, a vinaigrette for the ‘garden lettuces’ we each began the meal with. Seriously, I have relived that salad over so many times in my head since back in Seattle. The dressing made the lettuces be the star. We had it for as part of our Valentine supper last eve, and it again just blew me away.
You will need: 1 small garlic clove, salt, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, freshly ground black pepper, 3 to 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Find the best garden, or farmers market or grocery store lettuce you can get your hands on.
(1) Wash the greens and dry them well, first in a salad spinner and then by rolling them up in a towel. Refrigerate until used. (2) Put a peeled garlic clove and 2 big pinches of salt in a mortar and pound into a purée, with no chunks remaining. Add the wine vinegar, grind in some black pepper, and taste for the balance of salt and vinegar. Allow to macerate for a few minutes, and (3) whisk in olive oil. Taste the dressing with a leaf of lettuce. It should taste bright and lively without being too acidic or oily; adjust the salt, vinegar, or oil as needed. To dress the salad, put several generous handfuls of greens in a large bowl. Toss with about three quarters of the vinaigrette, taste. The greens should be lightly coated but not overdressed. Add more dressing as needed.