If there's one thing I've come to appreciate as I've gotten older and have had more exposure to good food, it's a delicious, simple salad. It's something that I've grown really comfortable with making at home, and sometimes, I even prefer my own (dressing, especially) to anything I could order out. Fresh lettuce and herbs with a good dressing is all you need, but for as simple as it is, it can be an elusive combination until you've figured out the key parts.
There's one particular salad in Rochester that tops my list of favorites, hands down. Actually, Jon and I just had the 'death row, last meal on earth' talk (it can't be only us), and that particular salad made the cut for me. Funnily enough though, the 'last meal' slowly transpired into an entire day of theoretic eating, starting with breakfast followed by brunch followed by lunch and a post-lunch snack, etc. I doubt that's how last-days-alive-in-prison go down, but for our purposes, and for illustrative purposes, they do. Because, to be fair, I don't think a salad would make the cut for me on its own, but as an appetizer to dinner after an already indulgent 12 hours? Sure does.
This is the closest I've come to recreating the perfect salad at home. It's something we've enjoyed trying to figure out, recreationally, for months. The results have always been pleasing but never quite right, until a recent rendition (this one) that we've been making non-stop. It is so simple, so light, and just so stinking palatable—it's the perfect combination of flavors. It will never replace Rocco's, but it's a pretty darn good at-home substitute alongside chicken, pork, steak, pasta... anything.
Tricolor salad with fresh herbs and gorgonzola
Yields 6-8 servings
2 heads baby romaine, outer leaves removed, sliced into ribbons
1 large head Belgian endive, stem cut, outer leaves removed, sliced into ribbons (tough inner core removed)
½ head radicchio, thinly sliced into ribbons, and cut in half again
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
½ cup or more chiffonade basil
¼ cup chopped dill
½ cup or more good crumbly Gorgonzola
Flaky sea salt and black pepper to finish
⅓ cup or more red wine and shallot vinaigrette (recipe below)
In a large bowl, toss together various lettuces, celery, basil, and dill. Pour in dressing and toss to coat (taste and add more dressing if needed). Sprinkle in Gorgonzola and flaky sea salt and pepper, and give it one last toss. Serve right away.
Red wine and shallot vinaigrette
Yields a little over ½ cup
5 T extra virgin olive oil
2 T red wine vinegar
1 tsp honey
½ tsp Dijon
1 T minced shallot
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl or mason jar and whisk (or shake) until emulsified. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt or pepper to taste. Cover and store in fridge until ready to use.