When brainstorming dinner plans (as we drank our breakfast coffees) I said I was thinking of perhaps roasting vegetables. Fronx said he would rather have something crunchy, like a Greek salad. Vegetables and low effort was the main motivation for me suggesting roasted vegetables, so I agreed that Greek salad was also good.
But thinking about romaine lettuce reminded me of the fantastic grilled meal we’d had over at Ole’s in the summer …
Before grilling, the romaine is first brushed with a simple vinaigrette that is indistinguishable from Greek salad dressing: red wine vinegar, olive oil, herbs like thyme and oregano, salt, pepper.
That got me wondering: what about a Greek salad but with grilled ingredients … (though no grilled cucumber. EWW.)
Except I don’t have a grill, so I had to improvise. I feel like my whole cooking life has been building up to this meal, since I took ideas and techniques from a variety of past cooking experiences.
The sum of its parts
(Quick aside: the photos aren’t great because I was primarily taking them for myself to remember. Please do not judge the amazingness of this salad based on my sloppy camera phone shots)
I roasted cut cherry tomatoes in the oven with just salt and pepper, on high, for 20 minutes, as described in the recipe for cauliflower gnocchi with tomatoes and rapini that I made last Saturday. They ended up falling apart in the “salad”, acting more like a sauce, which was also good.
I dry-seared some shallots and red peppers, a technique I learned from making Puebla Chicken and Potato Stew. I later tossed them in more of the same dressing as I used on the lettuce.
I pitted some Kalamata olives, and chopped up some feta in little cubes. I go easy on the feta since I often find it overwhelming salty.
I then seared the lettuce last, so it would be crunchy and warm. I prepped it as for grilled lettuce, and then seared it in a very hot pan until lightly charred on all sides. (Thanks Allison for suggesting this method!)
I roughly chopped the seared lettuce, and put it into two bowls, topped that with the now soft tomatoes, added the seasoned shallots and red peppers, and finished with olives and feta.
Ingredients and amounts
When I make vinaigrette, I just eyeball it, using a 2:1 ratio for oil to vinegar. For two people, you need about 75ml worth of vinaigrette:
- 50ml olive oil
- 25ml red wine vinegar, though you could use fresh lemon juice if you prefer
- herbs like thyme and oregano, at least a 1/2 teaspoon dried or teaspoon fresh
- salt, pepper
An estimate on the vegetables for the salad, for two people:
- three tomatoes, or a dozen cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 or a full red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
- half a red onion, or 3 or 4 shallots, peeled and chopped so they hold together
- two small romaine lettuces, or one medium-sized romaine
- a dozen or so Kalamata olives
- 50g feta, though you may like it with more
Making it a meal with wrinkled potatoes
Just before I put the tomatoes in the oven, I started boiling some new potatoes in some super salty water, so I could make wrinkled potatoes.
I prepared the potatoes this way since it seemed a good paring for the mayonnaise we had leftover from our lunch; we made Rollmops-Brötchen with homemade mayo, but that is a different story. I squirted a bunch of Sriracha in the mayo for some spicy punch which was a brilliant idea.
I had been reluctant to make these potatoes before since Fronx always says no to potatoes when I suggest them, but these were a hit. He suggested I make them for guests, which is his greatest form of food-related compliment. WIN.