Saturday, January 19, 2013

Butter Lettuce And Herb Salad With Asparagus, Artichoke Hearts And Feta

butter lettuce, herbs, asparagus, artichoke and feta salad recipe

Do you have an herb garden? My greatest investment last spring was planting one. The idea was actually borne out of trying to liven up a sad and lonely balcony located  in the back of my house.  A set of Adirondack chairs was an improvement, but the space needed some" life" in order to feel like a patio.  Given that I have a ground level flower garden, I couldn't motivate myself to plant more flowers. Then the idea hit: how about herbs? To finish the project: five chocolate-hued, tall, rectangular pots, organic soil and feed and a slew of herbs - basil, oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro, chervil, dill, chives, rosemary, tarragon and thyme.  The benefits of an herb garden are reaped each day if you cook- no more buying an expensive batch of herbs when you only need 1 T or leaving two stores in frustration when you learn they do no carry chervil.  Plus, herb gardens can look very pretty...even in miniature, nestled near a sunny kitchen window.

The notion of adding large amounts of herbs to a salad was never something I considered until I made my first salad from the Ottolenghi cookbook - Etta's herb salad. It was an assault on the senses and  the reason I now seek out herb salad recipes. This one is equally as good jazzed up with asparagus, artichoke hearts and feta.

Butter Lettuce And Herb Salad With Asparagus, Artichoke Hearts And Feta

- for the vinaigrette
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1 medium shallot, minced
1/2 c olive oil
1 t kosher salt
1/2 t fresh ground black pepper
- for the salad
1 c loosely packed Italian parsley leaves
1 c fresh chervil leaves
1 c chives cut into 1" pieces
1 c fresh dill leaves
4 asparagus spears {look for the thinnest variety}
1 c canned borlotti beans, rinsed and drained {I used Italian butter beans; cannellini beans can be used too}
4 whole marinated artichoke hearts, quartered
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
16 large butter lettuce leaves
4 oz fresh feta cheese in brine, crumbled into large chunks {about 1 c}

To make the vinaigrette, whisk all the ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix together the herbs, transferring 1/2 to a cutting board and reserving those remaining in the bowl. Coarsely chop half the herbs,  add add them to the vinaigrette and toss.

Snap the asparagus spears at the natural break to remove the tough ends and discard. Starting at the tip, cut each spear on the diagonal, creating 1/8" thick slices. Place the asparagus in a large bowl. Add the beans, artichoke hearts and about 2/3 of the vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper and toss in the reserved herbs.

To prepare the salad, place 1 lettuce leaf on each of four plates.  Spoon 1/4 of the vegetable/herb mixture  on top of each lettuce leaf.  Sprinkle with 1/4 of the feta cheese. Layer an additional lettuce leaf on each plate and repeat the process three more times. Drizzle each plate with remaining vinaigrette.

Serves 4.
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Source:  Nancy Silverton, A Twist Of The Wrist

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