Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer Salad

I got the itch to try something new in the kitchen, but the past week has been a real press for time.  I wanted something I could cook quickly, but had a novelty to it.  My favorite cooking show is Good Eats and the host, Alton Brown, usually focuses each episode on one ingredient or technique.  In his episode on vinegar, called Good Wine Gone Bad, he created an application that allowed the use of raw vinegar in a salad.  Normally raw vinegar is so acrid and evaporates into such a pungent cloud that you can't really breathe around it, let alone eat much.  He froze the vinegar and made a vinegar snow out of it and put it on a grilled salad.  It looked delicious and easy, so I thought I would give it a shot.  Here are some shots from the attempt:

First I took the hearts of romaine and sliced them in half through the root end so they stayed together. 

I then brushed them with a little olive oil and pressed the cut ends into some finely grated Parmesan cheese and lots of cracked black pepper.  You then press the cheesy lettuce into a hot saute pan for 1-2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and crisped up.
Before starting (maybe that morning, but at least two hours out) put a 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar per person in a pan and put it in the freezer.  Once it is solid scrape it with a fork until it looks like shaved ice.  Pop it back in the freezer until just before service.
Once my heads of romaine were finished I paired them with a little left over chicken and spooned on the dressing.  The only issue I had was that I dressed too much of the salad.  You should only put the vinegar ice on seconds before eating and only on the portion of the salad you are going to take the first few bites from.  Otherwise it melts before you get to that bite and stings your eyes a bit and pours out into your lap.  It is still delicious though, even if messy.  The cheese and a few drops of oil are really the only fat and major calories in the salad.  The Parmesan is so worth it though because it protects the leaves from scorching, it adds lots of flavor, and it crisps up into a sort of frico right on the salad.  The lettuce itself becomes so much more flavorful because it is partially cooked.  The best part of all is that for a great, filling salad, not including the protein I added, it was maybe 100 calories per serving (1/2 of the head of lettuce).  A salad, even carefully prepared, is rarely that light for that much food.  I was really hungry so I ate both halves, but one half is really about the same as two cups of chopped lettuce, which is a substantial serving.

1 comment:

  1. Well, that looks extra tasty and interesting for those of us who are experimental....but, at our house, that takes two....oh, well. P & I have taken to turning off the tv when we eat and it seems to make a difference in the way and amount we eat. You probably did that some time ago. LYMTA, M&P