This salad has been in my family for decades. My grandmother made it for years and then my mother took over, adding her own little touches. My mom has served this for a family of four on a random Tuesday night and to over 50 people at a formal Christmas dinner. It fits in and impresses anyone, anytime. It has reached a point of perfection, so much so that Nick literally wants to eat it every night (and sometimes pack some for lunch the next day.) The ingredients and methods are simple, but an important note: you MUST make the infused garlic oil (for the garlic lemon dressing) at least 24 hours ahead of time. If you try to rush this step, you will be unimpressed with the results. Here you go, MC’s legendary romaine salad. First, the dressing.
Roughly chop 8 cloves of peeled garlic and plop into a glass jar. Nothing fancy here.
If you’re using a smallish jar, fill with canola oil to the top. If using a larger jar, just go half-way.
Garlic Lemon Dressing
1 Mason jar or any glass jar with a lid
8 cloves of garlic
Roughly chop garlic and place in glass jar. Fill with canola oil to top, or half-way if using a large jar. Seal jar with lid and place in fridge for at least 24 hours. This will give the oil sufficient time to infuse the garlic. As you use the oil, simply pour more canola oil into the jar. The garlic will keep doing its job. This can sit in the fridge for 6-8 weeks. After too long, the oil can get too garlic-y, so it’s best to start fresh.
To serve 4 people:
When ready to dress the romaine salad, mix 4 tablespoons of the garlic oil with 2 tablespoons of lemon juice in a small, sealable container. Be careful not to spoon out any of the chopped garlic into the dressing, you only want to use the infused oil–you don’t want hunks of garlic in your salad. The ratio is 2 parts garlic oil to 1 part lemon juice, so you can modify to feed any number of people. Shake well to combine. Pour on top of salad and toss until well incorporated.
Now the salad. You only need to start with romaine lettuce, red onion, parmesan cheese, salt & pepper.
Rinse the romaine lettuce thoroughly and spin dry in a salad spinner. If you don’t have a salad spinner, dry with lots of paper towels.
Slice a large red onion (top to bottom) in half and peel. Save the other half for another use. Slice red onion in super-thin half-moons. If you don’t love red onions, I urge you not to skip this ingredient. Instead, you can soak the sliced red onions in ice water for 10-20 minutes to cut their potency. That way you still get their flavor and sweetness without the sting (or bad breath effects.)
Now the fun salad layering begins. You want to layer the salad ingredients into 3 layers. First layer, tear 1/3 of the romaine leaves into bite size pieces. Place into your salad bowl.
Spread 1/3 of the sliced red onion on top of the romaine. Sprinkle generously with grated parmesan cheese. Salt & pepper to taste. Now keep layering until all of the ingredients are used.
About 10 minutes before you’re ready to assemble and serve, place 4 salad bowls in the freezer. Salad always tastes better on a super cold bowl or plate. Take the toast and tear into bite size pieces on top of the salad layers.
Mix the dressing well (recipe above) and pour on top of the salad.
This is why the toast croutons really work here… they absorb the dressing like nothing better. Toss and serve into the chilled salad bowls.
MC’s Romaine Salad with Red Onion (+ Garlic Lemon Dressing)
2 romaine hearts or 1 large head of romaine
1/2 large or 1 small red onion
1 cup of parmesan cheese (you may use less, but have plenty on hand)
2 slices of wheat sandwich bread
Salt & Pepper
Garlic Lemon Dressing (recipe above)
Wash and dry romaine leaves. Make sure leaves are very dry; I recommend using a salad spinner. Slice 1/2 of large red onion or 1 small red onion into very thin half-moon slices. If you dislike the strength of raw onion, soak slices in an ice bath for 10-20 minutes to cut their potency.
Toast slices of sandwich bread and allow to cool at room temperature. Set aside.
You will build 3 layers for the salad. Each layer consists of:
1/3 of romaine leaves, torn into bite-size pieces
1/3 of sliced red onion
A generous sprinkling of grated parmesan cheese
Dashes of salt & pepper
Once complete, cover and chill in fridge until you’re ready to serve. Place salad bowls/plates in freezer (optional).
When ready to serve, remove salad from fridge and tear toasted sandwich bread into bite-size pieces on top. Shake lemon garlic dressing well to combine. Pour on top of salad, toss, and serve into chilled salad bowls.