BLT.

For the longest time, I had a crazy strong aversion to any recipe or dish that involved the term “wilted”. I always thought it was a fancy way of saying “we cooked this stuff for waaaay too long, but hey! just toss something crunchy in and with it and it’ll be like new”.

That being said, the new-ish craze of grilling lettuce was certainly not anything I was excited about or intrigued by at. all.

But then I tried a salad with grilled romaine lettuce. Hells yes.

And charred-like tomatoes. Hells bigger yes.

And then I combined those with blue cheese, prosciutto (what’s not to love about this, really!) and croutons. Shit just got real around here, no?

Charred BLT Salad
Adapted from Cooking Light, May 2012;  serves 4

time commitment: less than 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
3 T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 oz thinly sliced prosciutto, cut crosswise into ribbons
1 1/2 c (1/2-inch) cubed whole-grain bread (about 2 ounces)
1 pint grape tomatoes
1/8 t kosher salt
1/4 t freshly ground black pepper
2 romaine hearts, halved lengthwise
Cooking spray
1/4 c chopped green onions
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled

instructions
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil; swirl to coat. Add prosciutto; cook 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove prosciutto with a slotted spoon. Drain on paper towels. Add bread to pan; cook 3 minutes or until browned, stirring frequently. Combine prosciutto and bread. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan. Add tomatoes; cook 5 minutes or until skins begins to split, stirring frequently. Pour tomatoes and olive oil into a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Coat cut sides of lettuce with cooking spray. Place lettuce, cut side down, on a grill rack coated with cooking spray. Cook 2 minutes or until well marked. Place 1 lettuce half on each of 4 plates. Divide prosciutto mixture and tomato mixture among servings. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon onions and 1/2 ounce cheese.

Finally, I Bathed in Buttermilk

There was a moment in time, not too long ago actually, that I could not for the life of me get the thought of a juicy, gnarly-shapen heirloom tomato out of my head. I imagined them, bursting with seeds and almost tie-dyed in their outward appearance, in a number of iterations, but at the time the markets were instead selling peaches and strawberries and maybe some squash by the bushels. A couple of tomatoes sat sadly on the corner of one table, and all the while I thought I’d be none the wiser if I just nudged them onto the ground and walked away, because I was damn tired of being taunted.

I don’t like being taunted.

Let there be no doubt – peaches, strawberries, and squash are lovely in their own right, but a tomato is what I craved. And then I missed a couple of Sundays at the market, probably the same weekends the troves of ‘maters made their awaited debut. All the while, I resorted to the canned version and made a tomato-semolina soup (okay, but not earth-shattering) and a roasted tomato and red pepper soup (totally earth-shattering, so stay tuned for this post). Then, I got some decent fresh tomatoes and made a panzanella salad with quinoa, but the quinoa was undercooked, which I’ve never done before (overcooking quinoa is my strong suit), so this merits a re-make.

To make a long story that shouldn’t be long short, I finally got what I’d really been craving and I scored those tomatoes. Then I had my way with them.

Now, some of you may say something like this when you realize I slathered them in buttermilk dressing: “wow. that’s a lot of dressing there, girlfriend. you know, you really don’t neeeeeed to put anything on a perfect heirloom tomato. it takes away from the flavor of the tomato, which should be left as is.”. This is just being way too judgmental. You should get with the program :). Others may say something like this: “damn. that’s a good lookin’ salad. not the first thing that came to mind for fresh tomatoes, but it’s worth a try.”. I’d say you’re on to something, and I like that you’re open-minded. And then there’s the rest of you, who’d say: “by golly I love me some buttermilk dressing, and I’m ’bout to tear this salad DOWN! then!, I’m going to drink the rest of the dressing and rub it all over my body.”. That’s what I’m talking about. Full of enthusiasm! I heart you.

Okay, so maybe you won’t bathe in it, but you’ll sure as hell want to. Of course, only if your thoughts are in line with the last group, and maybe the second. I’m totally in the last group, but generally I don’t like a lot of stuff on my ‘maters either, so I sorta blend into the second. And to be truthful, I normally don’t bathe in my food, but I made an exception.

What can I say? In-season, heirloom tomatoes have that effect on me.

Heirloom Tomato Salad w/ Buttermilk Dressing
Adapted from Bon Appetit, September 2010; serves 4 

okay. one thing I will say about this salad, aside from the fact that I adored it, is that the blue cheese can come or go. if you’re big in to blue cheese, you may like it. if you’re not, you may think it’s waaaaay too much. I like blue cheese, but I preferred the salad with just the dressing, and no cheese…

time commitment: 30 minutes

printable version

ingredients
dressing
1/2 c mayonnaise
1/3 c buttermilk
2 T finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 1/2 T fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 T minced shallot
1 small garlic clove, minced
kosher salt and pepper

salad
3 slices of white bread, cut into 1 inch cubes (optional)
2 1/2 lbs heirloom tomatoes (various shapes and colors), cored, & cut into 3/4-inch-thick wedges (I used a pineapple corer but you could also just cut the core out with a knife)
1/2 c thinly sliced shallots
2 T evoo
1 T fresh lemon juice
kosher salt
1/2 c crumbled blue cheese (optional)
2 green onions, thinly sliced diagonally
2 T fresh Italian parsley leaves

instructions
Preheat oven to 350 F. Whisk first 6 ingredients in small bowl. Season dressing with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.

Toss bread cubes onto a baking sheet and bake for ~10 minutes. Remove and let cool.

Place tomatoes and shallots in large bowl. Add oil and lemon juice; sprinkle with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper and toss. Divide among 4 plates. Drizzle with dressing. Sprinkle with blue cheese, if using, as well as green onions, and parsley. If you want a crunch to your salad, divide the croutons among the 4 plates (for leftovers, keep the croutons separate from the salad until eating.).