Cookbook author Deborah Madison, now one of vegetables' best-known champions, was the chef at Greens Restaurant when the first Tasting was held. "The salad was simple since there was so much going on in the meal," she says. Her original consisted of small lettuces and "scads of herbs"; this version features dill, basil, mint, and cilantro--"a wonderful, surprising mix."
1 small shallot, minced (about 1/4 cup)
About 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 1/2 tablespoons barrel-aged red wine vinegar* or organic apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons California extra-virgin olive oil, or more to taste
3 quarts loosely packed whole lettuce leaves (from 2 or 3 small heads limestone lettuce, Tom Thumb, or other small crisp lettuce)
Small handful of small dill leaves (or torn larger leaves)
Small handful of small basil leaves (or torn larger leaves)
Small handful of small mint leaves (or torn larger leaves)
Small handful of small cilantro leaves (or torn larger leaves)
How to Make It
Mix shallot in a bowl with 1/4 tsp. salt and the vinegar and let stand about 5 minutes to allow shallot to pickle slightly and salt to dissolve. Whisk in oil. Taste and add more vinegar if you want a sharper dressing, or more oil if you prefer it mellower.
Wash lettuce and dry well, then combine with herbs in a large bowl or on a platter.
Toss lettuce and herbs with a few pinches of salt. Drizzle with dressing and toss gently until leaves are well coated. Taste and add more salt if you like, and some pepper; then toss again.
*Barrel-aged vinegar is made the traditional way, fermented over several weeks in barrels or casks. It has a distinctively rich, deep, fruity flavor and is not hard to find; most grocery stores will have one or two brands.