Years ago we had lunch at a traditional brasserie in Toulouse and I chose as a starter a salad that sounded a little different.
It was an assembly of baby gem lettuce (called sucrine here– and they have a sweetness to them) small dollops of tapinade, parmesan shavings and quail eggs.
It looked beautiful: green and black with the yellow of the egg yolks and parmesan lifting it into the sublime.
It tasted good too–and joined my repertoire of Starters.
This version takes that recipe further, adding the smoky edge that a little light grilling gives the lettuce halves.
Grilling lettuce? Sounds odd but these tightly formed little gems keep their shape and and are transformed into the main players on the plate.
It helps to have some tapinade* already made, although a scattering of juicy black olives-chopped would do too.
I use the anchovy vinaigrette–also from my cook book–which goes well with these punchy little lettuces–but you could keep it simple and stick with the vinaigrette of your choice.
- 3 baby lettuce hearts–halved lengthwise
- anchovy dressing* or vinaigrette of choice
- some tapinade dip (or chopped black oils)
- parmesan shavings
- 4 poached eggs
- a couple of anchovies–halved lengthwise and across (optional!)
Heat a grill pad (the kind that sits on the stove) to hot.
Brush the cut side of the lettuce halves with the dressing and a little more olive oil
Grill for two or three minutes while lightly brushing the other sides of the lettuces with the dressing.
The grilling should take long enough to soften and color the lettuce without burning.
Turn them over and grill for a further two minutes or so….
Plate them up and pour over a little more dressing.
Top with dollops of tapinade and some parmesan shavings.
Finish with thinly slice anchovy fillets (if you’re using them).
Add the eggs to the assembly.
We ate these under the parasol in the courtyard.
* recipe in my new book, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics and on this blog; it is a handy dip in summer!