Sorta-Caesar Salad

Well, the nice thing about this endless Seattle gloom is that the lettuce isn’t bolting.

When I first moved to Seattle, J and I lived in a tiny house, and one of the first things we did was put in a tiny garden.  We built four raised beds in the grassy strip between the sidewalk and the street.  Everyone does that now, I know, but this was more than a decade ago and I liked to think of us as pioneering urban farmers back then.  (We got chickens too, of course.)

There was just one problem.  I’m from California.  And when I moved to Seattle, I was cold.  I consulted with my local garden store about what kind of vegetables I could grow in this inhospitable climate and planted things like lettuce, arugula, and broccoli.  And then I bundled them up as warm as I could.  I put hoops over the beds and sheathed them in clear plastic, trapping the heat to create toasty little greenhouses for my tender plants.  They thought it was high summer and went happily straight to seed, of course.  Learning that some plants prefer cooler temperatures was the beginning of my education about the benefits that a cool climate has to offer.  (Others include not needing much of a summer wardrobe, only needing an air conditioner a few days each year, and the blueberries.  Oh, the blueberries!)

In any case, delightful lettuces grow in this part of the world nearly year-round.  They are floppy or pert, frilly or reserved, pastel green, deep maroon, or freckled.  They are the stars of the show at springtime farmers markets, and I find them irresistible.  Here’s a nice thing to do with any sturdy, crunchy lettuce.  (Romaine is the classic, of course, as we’re riffing on the Caesar salad here, but it gets much more exciting than that.)Sorta-Ceasar Salad: Mince two cloves of garlic and mix with about 1/4 c. olive oil in a salad bowl.  Set aside to infuse while you wash your lettuce and cut bread for croutons.  Toss 3/4″ bread cubes with 1 Tb. of the garlic oil and a sprinkle of salt and bake at 350 until toasted, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes).  Mash a few anchovies into the garlic oil in your bowl if you like, along with few good dashes of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 tsp. dry mustard.   Add lettuce, grated Parmesan cheese, and the juice of half a lemon and toss well.  Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice or olive oil as needed.  Add croutons and toss again.

11 thoughts on “Sorta-Caesar Salad

  1. Sarah

    I am so envious of your lettuces! Here in St. Louis we usually get a long spring lettuce season if we get the seeds planted early enough, but this year was all out of whack. Between the wild swings in temperature where the heat made the lettuce bitter, and the rabbits, we got not one leaf out of our garden! Now I am waiting for the tomatoes. We should have a good crop this year, I hope!

  2. Erina

    I love finding fellow Seattle Bloggers!

    Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow at the BlogHer dinner at Canlis.

    Have you ever been? I’ve been lucky enought to go a few times this year and it is FABULOUS!!

    1. emmycooks Post author

      I’m looking forward to meeting you as well! No, I haven’t been to Canlis, although looking at your “meal plans” page I just learned that (other than Canlis) we eat out at all the same restaurants. :)

  3. hannah

    Those croutons look amazing. I don’t even like croutons and I am planning to make them :) I didn’t realize that you were a California girl! North or South California? Do you ever make it back?

    1. emmycooks Post author

      Northern, of course! Although I lived in LA for grad school for 3 years before I moved up here. I planned to hate LA but in fact I liked it quite a bit–that doesn’t automatically revoke my NorCal heritage, does it? :)

      1. hannah

        I promise you are still legit! I have family up and down the coast literally from Arcata to San Diego, and we love the entire state :) (Although my heart will always belong up here with the fog and the bridges and the rocky coast :) )

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