Roots to River Farm, just across the river from us in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, grows the tastiest green garlic, and we think this juicy salad is one of the finer ways to use it. A whole bulb goes into the dressing, while some of the stem is chopped and added to the croutons as they toast. The dressing needs no egg to thicken it, as the Parmesan makes it creamy enough. You could use packaged romaine hearts for this, but they are sometimes all crunch and no flavor. A good head of fresh romaine requires a little more work but tastes more alive and, well, lettuce-y. We adore the bitter edge of escarole and sometimes use that in place of romaine. When green garlic is out of season, swap in three finely chopped garlic cloves for the dressing and one thinly sliced garlic clove for the croutons. This recipe is from our upcoming cookbook, Onions Etcetera coming out Spring 2017!
|Green Garlic Caesar
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people who truly love each other)
3 slices ciabatta or country bread 1 bulb green garlic, with some of the stem 1⁄4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 6 anchovy fillets 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 1⁄2 cup finely grated Parmesan, plus more for garnish 1 large head romaine lettuce
Heat the oven to 375°F. Tear the bread into rough bite-sized pieces and place on a baking sheet. Take the bottom 4 to 5 inches of the green garlic stem and halve lengthwise. Discard the woody core, if needed, and slice the stem thinly. Scatter the sliced garlic stems over the bread, along with 3 tablespoons olive oil. Season well with salt and pepper, and toss with your hands to coat evenly. Bake, shaking the pan once or twice, until the edges of the croutons are golden-brown and crisp, 10 to 12 minutes. Set aside.
To make the dressing, chop the reserved green garlic bulb. Sprinkle a generous pinch of salt over the garlic and continue to use the side of your knife to mash the garlic to a paste. Lay the anchovies over the garlic paste, chopping and mashing to incorporate. Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and whisk in the lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper. Whisk in the remaining 1⁄4 cup olive oil, then stir in the grated Parmesan. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
Tear away a few of the green outer leaves of the lettuce and reserve for another use. If the tops of the lettuce are very leafy and floppy, lop them off and reserve for another use—you want most of this salad to be the juicy, crunchy heart. Tear the leaves into generous bite-sized pieces and transfer to a large salad bowl.
Add the dressing to the lettuce and mix gently to coat (hands work best for this). Scrape the croutons and browned garlic bits over the salad. To finish, shave a few long strips of Parmesan over the salad and serve.