Looking Forward to Salad Days

It seems like there’s no shortage of “National” food events to celebrate.  April was “National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month”, and just to be sure our diets are balanced, May is “National Salad Month”.  And I have the perfect example of what the month should hold in store.  Sam Sifton couldn’t have put it better when he wrote in the preface to his New York Times article “Smells Like Green Spirit”:  “At Seattle’s fanciest restaurant, it’s the simplest salad that stands out.”  The salad he was referring to is the Canlis Salad, from the restaurant of the same name.  It is, without a doubt, salad perfection.  Simple ingredients combined to give you a different taste, texture, and color in every bite.  Green freshness from the lettuce and herbs, tart bursts of tomato flavor, and salty heft from bacon and cheese make this salad so satisfying.  There is a lemon and olive oil dressing  emulsified with a coddled egg, reminiscent of another classic, the Caesar salad.  And those croutons:  bites of crunchy bread that you’ve toasted in a bit of bacon dripping.  I challenge you to not eat too many of them before they get to the salad bowl.  Wash and dry all the leaves very thoroughly and make the dressing with your best olive oil.  Then enjoy what may become your next favorite celebration salad.

Canlis Salad
(serves 4 to 6)
2 heads of romaine, outer leaves discarded, chopped
4 slices bacon, chopped
1 cup cubed fresh Italian bread
1 egg**
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup scallions, thinly sliced
3/4 cup fresh mint, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, roughly chopped
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Wash the lettuce in cold water, dry thoroughly and put in the refrigerator to chill.  In a large pan set over medium-high heat, fry the bacon  until it is nearly crisp, then remove to a bowl.  Drain off all but one tablespoon of fat, then add the bread cubes to the pan and toss to coat.  Bring the heat to low and toast, tossing occasionally with a spoon until it is crisp.  Remove to another bowl.  Make the dressing:  Place a whole egg in its shell into a coffee cup, then pour boiling water over the top.  Allow the egg to cook for 60 seconds, then remove it.  Rinse with water until cool.  In a mixing bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil, then crack the coddled egg into the bowl and whisk again, vigorously, to emulsify.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then set aside.  In a salad bowl, combine the lettuce, scallions, mint, oregano, and the reserved bacon.  Toss with enough dressing to coat the lettuce, then top with the tomatoes, the croutons, and a goodly shower of cheese.
(adapted from Canlis Restaurant, Seattle via the New York Times Magazine)
**Keep in mind that very young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and anyone with a compromised immune system should not consume raw or under-cooked eggs.


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