Merely three weeks ago, I lamented the mediocrity and afterthought-ness of most meatless entrees, so often cobbled together from sides of other dishes. Because I love a plot twist, it seems only right that this week I tell you about my favorite salad which happens to be — you guessed it — cobbled from the sides of other dishes. I used to order it from a taco place in our neighborhood before they changed the recipe, and even though I knew it was just the most filler-y lettuce, the pickled onions, sliced radishes, pepitas, and crumbled cotija they’d use to garnish their other offerings, masquerading as a salad, I did not care. Sometimes it works. Here, it sings. It’s absolutely perfect: crunchy, bright, creamy, and inhalable.
At home, I definitely zhuzh it more (a word I just learned, to my delight, how to spell) — I like to warm the pepitas in oil until they get more crisp and fragrant. I add avocado, which I also did at home when we’d order it. Sometimes I get cute and cut the iceberg lettuce into little wedges. I measure the toppings with my heart, but there are measurements below that will also work. I don’t know about you, but I could, and might try, to eat this once a week forever.
Want to buy a signed cookbook as a gift for yourself or someone else? In advance of Mother’s Day, you will be able to order signed cookbook(s) from two different beloved NYC bookstores that ship nationwide. Details:
* Books Are Magic: Order signed and personalized [i.e. “To [name]” and/or “Happy Mother’s Day!” or “Happy Mother’s Day, [name!”] copies of any of my three cookbooks. You can have these shipped to you or can pick them up at one of the two store locations in Brooklyn. Ordering deadline: 4/22.
* Strand Bookstore: Order a signed copy [no personalizing this round] Iof my most recent cookbook, Smitten Kitchen Keepers. You can have it shipped to you or can pick it up at their store near Union Square. While the ordering deadline is Mother’s Day (5/14), if you’d like it to arrive somewhere by Mother’s Day, The Strand recommends that you order by 4/26.
Events: While book tour events have otherwise slowed down, I will be in New Jersey at the Montclair Literary Festival on Saturday, May 6th.
6 months ago: Focaccia Onion Board and Apple and Cheddar Crisp Salad
2 year ago: Winter Squash and Spinach Pasta Bake
3 years ago: Skillet Turkey Chili
4 year ago: Chicken Curry
5 years ago: Even More Perfect Apple Pie
6 years ago: Quick Pasta and Chickpeas and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake
7 years ago: Garlic Wine and Butter Steamed Clams, Baked Alaska, Indian-Spiced Cauliflower Soup and Skillet-Baked Pasta with Five Cheeses
8 years ago: My Old-School Baked Ziti and Cannoli Pound Cake
9 years ago: Better Chicken Pot Pies and Better Chocolate Babka
10 years ago: Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl and Purple Plum Torte
11 years ago: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls
12 years ago: Apple Pie Cookies
13 years ago: Mushroom Lasagna
14 years ago: Quiche Lorraine and Breakfast Apple Granola Crisp
15 years ago: Majestic and Moist Honey Cake, Best Challah (Egg Bread), and Mom’s Apple Cake
16 years ago: Peter Reinhart’s Bagels and Peanut Butter Brownies
17 years ago: Lemon Cake
Baby Wedge Salad with Avocado and Pickled Onions
- 3 tablespoons (45 grams) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (15 grams) water
- Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar or honey
- 1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/4 cup (35 grams) pepitas
- 3 tablespoons (40 grams) olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small (3/4 to 1 pound) head of iceberg
- 1 medium avocado, chopped in chunks
- 1/2 cup (60 grams) crumbled cotija cheese
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced then cut into matchsticks
Pickle your onions: Combine red wine vinegar, water, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and sugar or honey in a jar. Add onion and shake to combine. You can let this pickle and soften in the fridge for 1 hour and up to 5 days, but it’s not bad at all in 10 to 15 minutes. To hurry the pickling along, you can actually microwave this (lid off, obviously) for about 20 seconds, and then let it hang out in the fridge until you’re ready.
Crisp your pepitas: Combine pepitas with 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small skillet and warm over medium heat. Let pepitas sizzle in oil for 1 to 2 minutes but keep a close eye on them; raw ones may be able to handle more time but already toasted ones will need less to get one shade darker. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper and let cool for few minutes before using.
Assemble your salad: Cut your iceberg into halves, then each half into 4 wedges. Cut the wedges down into smaller triangles, keeping the little pyramids intact as best you can for the baby wedge appearance. Transfer them to your serving plate. Scatter iceberg with avocado, then spoon pepitas and their oil over everything. Scatter with rings of pickled onion, and spoon the vinegar brine left behind over the lettuce. Garnish with cotija cheese and radishes. Season the whole platter with salt and pepper and eat right away.