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BLT Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

The dog days of summer seemed to have passed us by this year without ever actually arriving, unless you consider the phrase to have more to do with one’s lethargy than hot, sultry weather.   The windows are open, and from time to time, chilly breezes waft through the house forcing me to don a sweater but I acknowledge that it’s worth not having to tolerate the excessive heat everyone else seems to be dealing with this year. I prefer cool weather and this morning, we’re shrouded in fog, with large puffs of it lazily slipping past the kitchen window.  It feels more like spring than summer on most days, and so of course daydreams abound and hours pass with much less accomplished than I like to admit.  Even cooking has had little appeal, odd if you’re someone like me who measures life in food years.  Is there such a thing?

It would seem then, that dinner should be something cool and light to share with those sweltering in a too hot summer.  And for me, it should be something to work on slowly as thoughts come and go, with no particular focus.  Unlike other tasks begun and left to be finished in a day or so, at least I know dinner will happen.  It will be flavorful, fresh, and worth every single bite.

Like a BLT, without the bread.



BLT Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

Before you make the dressing…

Garlic Confit

1 c. garlic cloves

2 c. canola oil

Peel the garlic cloves and trim the root end of each.  In a small sauce pan, pour the oil, making sure to cover the cloves by 1 inch.  Heat gently over medium low heat, making sure than only tiny bubbles rise from the bottom as it cooks, adjusting heat when necessary.  Cook about 40 minutes, making sure to stir occasionally.  The garlic should be soft and easily pierced when finished.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the garlic to cool in the pan.  Store in the fridge and a sealed container with the garlic completely covered by the oil.  Use both the garlic and the oil within a week.

Aioli

4 lg. egg yolks

2 c. garlic oil (see above)

1 T + 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tsp. sea salt

Pulse the egg yolks in the bowl of a food processor.  With the motor running, pour a thin but steady stream of the garlic oil into the bowl until the mixture is thick and translucent.  Add the lemon juice and sea salt, blending briefly.  Scrape out into a lidded container and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To make the dressing...

1 c. aioli (see above)

1/3 c. buttermilk

1/2 c. sour cream

1 tsp. minced shallots

1 clove mashed garlic (see above)

1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp. chives, chopped

1 tsp. flat-leafed parsley, minced

sea salt & cracked pepper

1 c. blue cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients except the blue cheese.  When everything is well blended, sprinkle in the crumbled cheese and using a spatula, blend carefully, leaving some of the chunks in tact.  Store in a covered container in the fridge for up to 1 week.


For the salad…

4 oz. cubed proscuitto

maiche or other tender salad green

pea shoots

grape tomatoes

green onions

Start with the greens, add the tomatoes and onions, top with the proscuitto and finish with the blue cheese dressing.  Toss right before serving if serving a large salad, otherwise, plate individually, drizzle dressing over each and pass around extra dressing.


Notes:

  • I did mention this was a salad to make on a lazy day, didn’t I?  All things considered, there’s no intense labor here, very little stove time with a low heat, and all of it can be made ahead in parts.
  • The dressing recipe was adapted from several published in Thomas Keller’s ad hoc.
  • It’s completely delicious and the perk is you’ve got lovely garlic left over for so many other things like garlic mashed potatoes, or roasted red potatoes, or sauteed chicken, fish, roasted vegetables, or other salad dressings.
  • If you don’t want the quantity this makes because you’re not sure about how you’ll use it, cut it in half.
  • To thin the dressing, add more buttermilk. For a more pronounced cheese taste, add 50% more cheese.
  • Have fun with the greens and go crazy with all the lovely summer time tomatoes available.
  • Of course, good old bacon can be used instead of the diced proscuitto.
  • If you don’t have a food processor for the aioli, you can make it using a whip.  Use a heavy bowl and set it on a thick dish towel that has been twisted into a rope, then curled into a ring.  This base will allow you to whip with one hand and pour a steady stream of the oil with the other.  To create the emulsion that aioli (mayonnaise) is, that steady, slow stream of oil is key.
  • Thomas Keller prefers to use canola oil in many of his recipes and states that olive oil changes flavor upon heating. I didn’t know that!  Traditionally, I use extra virgin olive oil to make aioli and when I roast garlic.  If you prefer, that is also an excellent way to make this dressing.  You’ll have a much stronger garlic flavor in the oil and it will be excellent.

Kelly on Foodista