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Slice of Life

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Mix lettuce types for perfect salad

I guess you could call me a lettuce peasant.

I like iceberg. I know, all you salad greens snobs are now rolling your eyes and thinking, “Seriously, this woman has a culinary degree and she likes iceberg lettuce?”

Well let me tell you, growing up, a wedge of iceberg smothered in Thousand Island dressing with a couple of tomatoes on the side, was considered the salade composée of today. I like the crunch.

Somewhere in the 1970s and ’80s, salads became an art form rather than a side dish. Blame it on Martha Stewart, or Julia Child or even Graham Kerr, but salads became as important as the main course.

There are basically five types of lettuce: leaf, cos or romaine, crisp head, butter head and stem. With oh so many varieties you can pick your favorites to combine into a simple salad of just greens or a jumble of veggies to create a culinary masterpiece.

Other greens like spinach, arugula, radicchio or escarole can be added to your lettuce to give you a salad fit for anyone, anytime, anywhere.

Fennel Salad

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

Juice from 1 lemon

1/4 cup minced parsley

1 small fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 heads of Romine lettuce, torn into pieces

1 handful of arugula

4 green onions, sliced thin

8 radishes, sliced

Salt and pepper

10 to 12 strawberries, sliced

In a bowl combine the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. Mix to combine. In a salad bowl combine the fennel and the salad dressing. Mix to coat.

Add the lettuce, arugula, radishes and green onion. Season with salt and pepper. Add the strawberries and mix to combine. Serves 4 to 6.

Layered Salad

1/3 cup vegetable broth

1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Salad:

4 cups finely chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups finely chopped iceberg lettuce

1/2 cup finely chopped radicchio

1/2 cup thinly sliced Belgian endive (about 1 small head)

1 1/2 cups finely chopped English cucumber

1/2 cup finely chopped celery

1 cup finely shredded carrot

1 3/4 cups finely chopped red bell pepper

1 cup diced seeded plum tomato (about 4 tomatoes)

1 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions

2 cups diced, cooked beets

3 hard-cooked large eggs, finely chopped

1 tablespoon chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Dressing: In a jar with a tight lid combine the broth, vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, Italian seasoning, pepper and garlic. Cover and shake to combine.

For salad: Arrange the romaine in the bottom of a 2-quart glass bowl or trifle dish; top with iceberg. Layer radicchio, endive, cucumber, celery, carrot, bell pepper, tomato, red onion and green onions evenly over lettuces. Drizzle with dressing.

Cover and chill 4 hours or overnight. Arrange beets over green onions; top with eggs. Garnish with parsley, if desired.

Raspberry Lettuce Salad

1 1/2 cups Italian dressing

2 cups fresh raspberries

1/4 cup sugar

1 head red leaf lettuce, torn

2 cups baby spinach

1 head Bib lettuce, torn

1 can (8 ounces) hearts of palm, drained, and sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a blender or food processor combine the Italian dressing, 1 cup of the raspberries and the sugar, blending until smooth.

In a salad bowl combine the lettuces, spinach, hearts of palm, yellow pepper and the remaining raspberries. Drizzle half of the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine. Sprinkle the pecans over the top and serve. Serves 6 to 8.

– Modified from a recipe by Marcy Goldman, Cooking Light, April 2004 Slice of Life is a food column that offers recipes, cooking advice and information on new food products. It appears Sundays. If you have a question about cooking or a food item, contact Eileen Goltz at eztlog@gmail.com or write The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802.

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