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Secret Salad

Cookbook

The Relaxed Kitchen

Published by St. Martin's Press

This image courtesy of Christine Schmidhofer

I created this salad for Christmas dinner at our friend’s Jared’s lovely Victorian home in Athens, New York. We were still doe-eyed from our most recent Chianti experience, and missing sheep’s milk cheese and truffles. This seemed a perfect way to provide both. The unexpected presence of the melty cheese, hiding shyly underneath the tender greens, and the perfume it imparts to them, are a blissful revelation.

If Pecorino tartufo is unavailable, choose any medium-firm, piquant cheese. Worst-case, use a not-quite-ripe Brie.

Serves4

CostInexpensive

Easy

Total Timeunder 1 hour

Recipe CourseAppetizer

MealDinner

Type of DishSalad

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons good balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 large clove garlic, pushed through a press
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon or other interesting mustard; cassis mustard would be nice
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chicken or vegetable broth (canned is fine)
  • 6 to 8 ounces truffled Pecorino cheese (Pecorino Tartufo)
  • 4 cups loosely packed baby salad greens (about 4 ounces), preferably a spicy blend that includes arugula

Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine the two vinegars, garlic, salt, a generous grinding of pepper, mustard, olive oil, and broth. Whisk together vigorously until thickened and emulsified. Set aside until serving time (whisk again just before adding the greens to re-emulsify, if it has separated).

  2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Assemble the plates, salad greens, and the bowl of dressing near the stove. You will also need a metal spatula to quickly transfer the melted cheese to the plates.

  3. Cut the Pecorino into 4 equal slabs and place them on an oiled baking sheet with at least 2 inches between each square. Place in the hot oven and watch closely; after about 5 minutes, the cheese will be very runny. While the cheese is melting, add the greens to the bowl of dressing and toss with tongs until evenly coated with the dressing (this takes more tossing than you might expect).

  4. When the cheese has melted almost to the point where it is liquid, transfer one square to each plate with the metal spatula and mound some of the salad on top, hiding the cheese. Serve at once.

Mise-en-Place

Make the dressing, cut the cheese into 4 equal slabs, and assemble all the ingredients and tools near the stove. Preheat the oven. Just after the cheese slabs go in, toss the salad. Guests should be seated before you serve.

Lagniappe

Scatter each finished salad with a few pomegranate seeds.

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