January 12, 2014

Garlicky Romaine Chop

A new friend at a dinner party casually snagged a leaf out of the salad bowl, crunched it between her teeth, and did a double-take."Woah. What did you do to this?"

It was the same question I'd asked my dad a few nights earlier, my speech garbled by a mouthful of romaine. He'd told me how my grandmother (who's about to turn 91) used to rub a cut garlic clove around the inside of a salad bowl before adding the greens: an old French trick. Now my father puts the good stuff where it counts, crushed directly into a ramekin of peppery extra virgin olive oil. The garlicky oil glistens and marinates on the counter for half an hour before it's time to toss the salad.

Outrageously, there's only one more ingredient: salt, which transforms this into one of the best green salads I have had in years. Trust me on the omission of vinegar. The salad is punchy and complex all by itself.

As you chop and toss, think the perfect partner to a cheese omelet. Think spicy, cancer-preventing garlic. Think a resemblance to the Italian appetizer pinzimonio, which marries colorful crudites with a strong, salted olive oil. Think cold-pressed olive oil for a healthy heart. Think an elegant side salad that takes five minutes to make.

As for Darwin, he still confuses "Romaine" with "The Ramones." He's a salad lover in training. I always, always put a few leaves on his plate, and he usually munches one or two, wanly interested. His favorite salad remains our mayo-free coleslaw.

He'll come around.


Garlicky Romaine Chop
Serves 4 or more

1 small head of fresh, crisp romaine
1/4 cup peppery extra virgin olive oil
3-4 cloves garlic, peeled
sea salt, to taste

Pour olive oil into a small bowl, and crush the garlic cloves directly into it. Let sit for 15-30 minutes.

Wash and thoroughly dry romaine, and chop into one-inch pieces.

In a large bowl, toss the chopped romaine with the garlicky oil until the oil coats each piece. Taste a leaf, and drizzle in extra oil from the bottle if needed. (Don't worry, it won't dilute the garlicky goodness.)

Sprinkle sea salt on the lettuce to taste, and serve immediately.


  1. your food always sounds so enticing! i'm going to try this tonight.

    1. I'm glad, Kelli! Let me know how you like it. :)