Little Gem Salad with Buttermilk Vinaigrette

I am addicted to little gem lettuce — it’s kind of like a miniature romaine.  Lunardi’s, one of my favorite grocery stores, carries it, and it’s the only place I can find it except for the farmer’s market occasionally.   This is a pretty and delicious salad —  my new fave.


1 small shallot
1 1/2 tablespoons Moscatel vinegar
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil

Mince the shallot, then place in a medium bowl, and add the Moscatel vinegar.  Allow to macerate for about 10 minutes.

Add the buttermilk and creme fraiche and stir.  Whisk in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.

1 head of little gem lettuce
2 tablespoons toasted breadcrumbs
2 leaves of basil, chopped
1 radish, thinly sliced
8 thin slices of fennel (cut the bulb in half, lengthwise, then slice into half moons)

kosher salt, to taste
freshly ground pepper

In another bowl, combine the gem lettuce,   toasted bread crumbs, basil, radish and fennel.  Whisk the vinaigrette, then pour over the salad.  Toss to coat the salad evenly.

To plate, stack the leaves from largest to smallest, making sure to include the vegetables and  basil.

Recipe by Brian Huston




Mozza Salad: I Could Eat this EVERY Night!

My most favorite salad in the world with the most badassical garbanzo beans I have ever had, and that says it all considering I used to gag on garbanzo beans.  SERIOUSLY! DO NOT MAKE THIS SALAD UNLESS YOU MAKE THESE GARBANZO BEANS. Okay.  OKAY!  Make the  #*!&$ salad and open a can of beans, but I’m telling ya’ — once you make these beans, you’re a gonner.img_1149


1 small head iceberg lettuce (I prefer romaine and a little arugula)
1 medium head radicchio (I usually leave this out)
1/2 red onion, sliced thinly
1 pint small sweet cherry tomatoes, halved through the
stem ends
1 1/2 c. garbanzo beans (KILLUH recipe below)
4 oz. Provolone or Fontina, sliced 1/8″ thick and cut into 1/4″ wide strips
4 oz. salami, sliced 1/8″ thick and cut into 1/8″ wide strips
5 peperoncini, stems and thinly sliced

juice of 1/2 lemon  plus more to taste
dried oregano for sprinkling

Oregano Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Combine all ingredients.  Drizzle 1/2 c. of the vinaigrette over and toss to coat well.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the salad – and again gently toss.  Taste for seasoning and add more salt, lemon juice or vinaigrette to taste.  Pile the salad onto plates, and sprinkle with dried oregano.  Yum! Yum! Eat ‘em up!!

Oregano Vinaigrette

In Nancy Silverton’s wonderful Mozza cookbook, she calls for 1  and 1/2 cups of olive oil in this dressing, but for my taste, that’s about a cup too much. Start with 3/4 cup of olive oil, and then whisk it in — let the dressing sit for a while. Then taste and add oil to your taste — I usually don’t add any more.

2 1/2 T. red wine vinegar
2 T. dried oregano
1 T. fresh lemon juice, plus more to taste
1 grated clove of garlic (Silverton also calls for 1 more smashed clove — but that’s too much garlic for my taste)
1/2 t. kosher salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
3/4 c. olive oil

Combine all ingredients except for the olive oil and whisk. Add the olive oil in a slow, thin stream, whisking constantly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, pepper, or lemon juice to taste. Refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving, whisking to recombine.



Note:  Start these the night before . . . they  need to soak overnight.

1 cup dry chickpeas, soaked overnight
2 tablespons kosher salt
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 large carrot, peeled and halved
1 celery rib, halved
1 dried arbol chile (I had New Mexico chiles. Seemed to work fine!)
16 garlic cloves (I know, I know.  I think I got tired of peeling garlic after 12)
1/2 yellow onion, halved

Drain the chickpeas and put them in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover them by 1 1/2 inches. Add the salt and the olive oil. Place the carrot, celery, chile, garlic, and onion in a double piece of cheesecloth and tie it into a closed bundle with kitchen twine. Add the bundle to the pot with the chickpeas and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer the chickpeas until they are very tender and creamy, about 2 hours, adding more water to the pot as needed but never covering them by more than an inch to an inch and a half. (Cooking them in just enough water yields richer-tasting, creamier beans than if you were to just boil them in tons of water.) (Note: the time will vary greatly depending on how long you soaked the beans and how old the beans are; the time could be anywhere from 1 hour to as long as 4.)

Turn off the heat and allow the chickpeas to cool in the cooking liquid. Remove and discard the cheesecloth bundle. The chickpeas can be prepared to this point up to a week in advance. If you are using the chickpeas now, drain them, reserving the cooking liquid to use as a hearty, chickpea-flavored base for vegetable soup. To use later, transfer the chickpeas and the cooking liquid to an airtight container and refrigerate until you are ready to use. Bring the chickpeas to room temperature and drain them before using.

Greek-Style Lettuce Cups

I completely love anything in a butter lettuce cup.  I was feeling so loggy after the holiday food fest,that all I wanted for a month was anything that was green  This is fresh, light and sparkling delish, and made me feel clean and ready to eat again!

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.11.16 AM



  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I’m all over the ones at Trader Joe’s
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 lemon, zest freshly grated and juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 8 to 10 fresh butter lettuce leaves


  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 cups cherry, grape or any small tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/3 cup roasted red peppers, chopped (jarred are fine)
  • 1 seedless cucumber, peeled and chopped (in love with Persian cakes)
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives, sliced or chopped
  • 6 ounces feta
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced or pressed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

avocado tzatziki

  • 1 avocado
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 seedless cucumber, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Heat the broiler in your oven to the highest setting with the oven rack about six inches below (I set my rack on the second-highest level.) Spray a baking dish with nonstick spray. Place the chicken in the dish.

Stir together the salt, pepper, dill and garlic. Cover the chicken evenly on both sides. Heat up the grill and cook until firm — about 10 minutes — or bake them in the oven. While the chicken is cooking, whisk together the honey, lemon juice and lemon zest. Once the chicken is finished, brush the honey mixture on top and grill for 2 more minutes. Flip the chicken, brush the other side and cook 2 minutes move. Remove from the oven and let cool, then slice.

To assemble the lettuce cups, spread some tzatziki in the bottom of the butter leaf. Top with the greek salad, the chicken, and any extra feta.


Place the shallots, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, olives and half of the feta in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the vinegar, lemon juice, honey, garlic, dill, oregano, salt and pepper. Slowly stream in the olive oil and whisk until the dressing comes together. Pour it over the vegetables and let sit under ready to use. You can store this in the fridge, even overnight, for tons of flavor! Right before serving, I use half of what is left of the feta to stir into the veg, and the other half for topping the cups. This makes for a good amount of leftovers!

avocado tzatziki

Add all ingredients to a food processor and blend until combined. You can leave this as chunky or as smooth as you’d like!


from one of my favorite bloggers — Jessica Merchant at How Sweet Eats.

Shredded Romaine and Cucumber Salad

with a YUMMY yogurt dressing.  My new FAVORITE salad!  I think I’ve eaten it 5 of the past 9 days.   I’m a pushover for anything with cucumber in it, and the herbs give this salad such a fresh and sparkly taste.  Super easy to make — it’s gonna be your favorite salad too!  Don’t forget the aleppo pepper!


For the dressing

  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 T. good-quality Champagne or Chardonnay vinegar
  • 1-1/2 t. granulated sugar
  • 1 t. minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad
  • 1 large head romaine
  • 1 English cucumber
  • 1 cup baby arugula
  • 3/4 cup lightly toasted walnut halves, 2 to 3 T. reserved for garnish
  • 2 T. chopped fresh dill
  • 1 T. chopped fresh mint
  • 1 T. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 t. Aleppo pepper
 Make the dressing

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, and garlic. Let stand for at least 10 minutes to mellow the garlic. Whisk in the yogurt. Slowly drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the salad

Wash and thoroughly dry the romaine leaves (the dressing won’t cling if the lettuce is wet). Slice the leaves crosswise 1/4 inch thick and transfer to a large bowl.

Peel, halve, seed, and grate the cucumber on the large holes of a box grater. Squeeze out any excess water with your hands and add to the lettuce. Crumble all but the reserved walnuts into the salad. Coarsely chop the arugula and add that to the bowl along with the dill, mint, and parsley. Keep cold until ready to serve.

Toss the salad with dressing to coat generously. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Aleppo pepper and reserved walnuts and serve.

From Fine Cooking

Couscous Salad with Tomato and Cuke

My current favorite summer salad! Be sure to use Israeli or pearled couscous — it’s the bigger and tastier version of the conventional kind.  Cool and refreshing!

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 8.48.24 AM


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup Israeli couscous (pearled couscous)
  • 6 to 8 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, to taste (I usually split the lemon juice with white wine vinegar — 3 tablespoons lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar)
  • 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh mint
  • ½ pound ripe tomatoes, very finely chopped
  • ¾ pound cucumbers (1 European or 4 Persian), seeded if using regular cucumbers, cut in fine dice
  • 1 bunch scallions, finely chopped, or 1/4 cup chopped chives, or thinly sliced red onion
  •  Salt to taste

Tastes great with crumbled feta cheese!


  1. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat in a medium saucepan and add the couscous. Stir until the couscous begins to color and smell toasty, 4 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups water and salt to taste and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes, or until the couscous is tender. Drain if any liquid remains in the pan.
  2. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice, parsley, mint, tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions or chives and salt to taste. Add the olive oil, toss together, taste and adjust seasonings. Serve over with lettuce leaves.

Grilled Lemongrass Pork and Rice Noodle Salad

I am in love with Asian Box, a small chain takeout restaurant in downtown Mountain View.  You HAVE to check this out:

Everything on that menu (except maybe the caramel egg) is so delicious, but it took just a couple visits to find my favorite:  Lemongrass pork with chilled rice noodles, bean sprouts,crispy shallots, peanuts, herbs, veggies, lime squeeze and peanut sauce . . .  OH — and Asian Street Dust!


But I live too far away to make this an easy stop— and parking on Castro Street in Mountain View is just this side of impossible.  So, I’ve been making my own Asian box salad (super easy), and I’ve got it nailed except for the Asian Street Dust, but I’m working on that.  It is seriously so good, I ate it three meals in a row last week.


Pork and Marinade

4 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced
3 large stalks of fresh lemongrass, tender inner white bulb only, sliced crosswise
2 large shallots, thickly sliced
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1.5 pounds boneless pork loin or any pork chop you like, sliced 1/4 inch thick

In a food processor, finely chop the garlic, lemongrass and shallots. Add the sugar, fish sauce, lime juice, vegetable oil and soy sauce and process to a paste. In a large shallow dish, coat the pork with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 and up to 4 hours.

When ready to compose the salad, grill pork slices on a hot grill about 2 minutes on each side.

NUOC CHAM (dressing)  I can DRINK THIS!

  • 1⁄4 carrot, cut in long strips with a potato peeler(2-inch piece)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons  sugar
  • 1⁄2 cup  warm water
  • 1⁄4 cup Asian fish sauce (I’m a Red Boat fan)
  • 1⁄4 cup  fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 red Thai chile, thinly sliced, I used a serrano (2-3 more if you like it hot)
  • 1 green onion, chopped

Okay. The dressing is tough to make.  Get a bowl.  Mix the ingredients in it. Done.


1/2 pound rice vermicelli

English or Persian cucumbers, julienned

a 3″ piece of a daikon radish, peeled and julienned

1/4 cup peanuts chopped

1/4 cup each of chopped cilantro and fresh mint

lime wedges

Place rice vermicelli in a pot of boiling water and cook for 60 to 90 seconds.  Pour into a colander and run cold water through the noodles until they are cool.

Put a handful of vermicelli in a bowl and top with slices of lemongrass pork, julienned daikon, carrot,  and Persian or English cucumber, chopped cilantro and mint, chopped peanuts and lime wedges.  Drizzle salad with nuoc cham and eat it up.  You’re gonna LOVE THIS!!

Potato Salad with Tarragon and Shallots

It’s not yo’ mama’s potato salad — this is MY culinary POV — a nice bite of champagne vinegar tempered with warm potatoes and rounded out by tarragon.  It’s SUMMAH!!!!

Screen Shot 2014-08-03 at 12.29.31 PM

SERVES 6 – 8.

2 lbs. fingerling potatoes, halved
3 tbsp. vinegar
1 shallot, peeled and minced
3 tbsp. fresh tarragon, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
3–4 tbsp. mayonnaise

1. Boil fingerling potatoes in a large pot of salted water over high heat until tender, 10–20 minutes. Drain. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add vinegar, shallots, tarragon, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Mix gently, let cool, then mix in mayonnaise.

Vietnamese Caramelized Pork and Noodle Salad

It’s almost worth making this recipe JUST to cook the pork which is so fabulous.  But, the rest of the recipe is so easy that you may as well make the whole thing.  I could eat this EVERY DAY!

For the noodles:

8 oz. dried rice vermicelli

For the pork:

1/4 cup sugar

2 large shallots, sliced, or 5 scallions (white parts only), chopped

2 tsp. fish sauce

2 tsp. soy sauce

Pinch salt

2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1-1/2 lb. pork loin or sirloin, sliced into large pieces about 1/4-inch thick

For the garnishes:

2 cups washed and shredded romaine, red, or green leaf lettuce

2 cups fresh, crisp bean sprouts

1-1/2 cups peeled, seeded, and julienned cucumber

1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small whole mint leaves

1/3 to 1/2 cup roughly chopped or small basil or Thai basil leaves

2 Tbs. chopped roasted peanuts

12 sprigs fresh cilantro

Cook the noodles:

Bring a medium potful of water to a rolling boil. Add the rice vermicelli and, stirring often, cook them until the strands are soft and white, but still resilient, 3 to 5 minutes. Don’t be tempted to undercook them, as they must be fully cooked to absorb the flavors of the dish. Rinse them in a colander under cold water just until they’re cool and the water runs clear. Let the noodles drain in the colander for 30 minutes, and then set them aside for up to 2 hours, unrefrigerated.

Marinate and cook the pork:

Combine the sugar with 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir a few times and allow to simmer until the sauce turns deep brown, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, have some extra hot water ready on a back burner. Once the sauce reaches the desired color, carefully add 4 to 5 Tbs. hot water to slow the cooking and thin the sauce. (Be sure to hold the pan away from you so that none of the hot caramel splatters on you when you add the water.) If necessary, add more hot water. The sauce should only be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.

Pound the shallots in a mortar and pestle or mince by hand. Transfer the shallots to a mixing bowl and combine with the fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, vegetable oil, and cooled caramel marinade. Stir well to blend. Add the pork slices and let marinate for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a broiler or light a charcoal or gas grill. When the broiler or fire is very hot, cook the pork until just done, about 2 minutes on each side. Let the pork rest for 10 to 15 minutes, and cut into thin strips.

Assemble the salads:

Divide the lettuce, bean sprouts, cucumber, mint, and basil among four large soup or pasta bowls. Fluff the noodles with your fingers and divide them among the prepared salad bowls. Put the grilled pork on the noodles and garnish each bowl with the peanuts and cilantro. Pass the nuoc cham at the table; each diner should drizzle about 3 Tbs. over the salad and then toss the salad in the bowl a few times with two forks or chopsticks before eating.

Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese Dipping Sauce)

1 clove garlic

2 to 3 Thai bird chiles (or 1 small jalapeño or serrano chile), cored, seeded, and minced; more or less to taste

1/2 tsp. ground chile paste; more or less to taste

2/3 cup hot water

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup fish sauce

2 Tbs. fresh lime juice

2 Tbs. shredded carrots (optional)

Create a free website or blog at