Friday, December 23, 2011

Mixed Green Salad with Parmigiano Crisps

This salad is a great starter to a full holiday meal. The parmigiano crisps add a nice salty bite and make for a beautiful presentation on your holiday table. The original recipe calls for 1 cup of grated cheese but I found the resulting crisps to be much too large for a side salad (as seen in the picture below). The second time I made these crisps I used 2 tablespoons of grated cheese per crisp and the results were perfect.

Mixed Green Salad with Parmigiano Crisps
salad recipe adapted from Anne Burrell vinaigrette recipe adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

½ cup grated Parmigiano
4 cups salad greens, such as mesclun, arugula, red leaf, romaine or baby spinach
1 cup mixed fresh herb leaves, such as parsley, basil, oregano, chives or cilantro
1 cup grape tomatoes, cut in ½
½ cup cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup champagne vinegar
1 large clove garlic
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

For the crisps:
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a sheet tray with a silicone mat. Make 4 even, very thin circles of Parmigiano on the mat (2 tablespoons each). Be sure that the circles are not touching. Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until the cheese has melted, turned golden brown and looks like lace. Remove the tray from the oven and let the crisps cool for about 1 minute. Using a spatula, remove the crisps from the silicone mat and reserve on a plate.

For the vinaigrette:
Blend the vinegar, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper in a blender until the garlic is finely chopped. With the blender running, slowly blend in the oil.

For the salad:
Fill your sink with cool water. Toss in all the salad greens and gently swish until all the dirt and grit falls to the bottom of the basin. Gently lift the greens out of the water and put in a salad spinner. If the greens are especially dirty empty the sink, rinse to rid of dirt and repeat the process. Spin the greens until they are dry and still very fresh looking. If not using the greens right away, store them wrapped loosely in paper towels then sealed in plastic bags in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

In a large bowl, place the greens and herbs. Add the tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. Drizzle in half of the oil and vinegar and season with salt. Using your hands, gently toss the salad to combine. Taste! Add the remaining oil and vinegar, if needed and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. The salad should be very flavorful but not soggy.

Arrange the salad on individual salad plates or bowls. Sprinkle each salad with the nuts and garnish with a Parmigiano crisp.