SIMPLE ROMAINE SALAD WITH TINY TOMATOES, FRESHLY SQUEEZED LEMON, OLIVE OIL & PARMESAN CRISPS
Getting kids to eat salad can be tricky. Have no fear, cheese is here! As my children have gotten older, I no longer need gimmicks to get them to eat their greens, but when they were young it was a different story. The ratio of cheese to greens has changed over time, but I still double the Parmesan chips in this recipe as they keep in an airtight container for a couple of days and make a great, anytime snack--especially on college football Saturdays. This salad is also perfect for adding to a wrap. With 3 or 4 ounces of any grilled protein and fresh lavash or pita pockets, a refreshing, lemony, herb-infused lunch is ready in minutes.
Nota Bene: When making the Parmesan crisps, as soon as the cheese is evenly melted, take them out. They will still be soft and pliable. At this point, leave them and they will harden. Alternatively, as soon as you can touch them, they can be molded over the bottom of ramekins or a small diameter cup to make nests that may be filled.
6 cups romaine lettuce leaves, torn into large, bite-sized pieces
1/2 pint tiny tomatoes, halved
1/2 lemon, freshly squeezed
4 tablespoons olive oil
10 basil leaves
Maldon sea salt flakes
Freshly grated black pepper
1 cup Parmesan Reggiano, coarsely grated
1. Combine lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl.
2. Turn the oven to 325 degrees F.
3. On a half sheet baking tray lined with a Silpat or parchment paper, sprinkle one tablespoon of cheese and use fingers to make a circle (more or less). There should be air holes that look like a lacy pattern when it spreads. Do not pack cheese into a ball. Repeat until all of the cheese on sheet.
4. Place baking sheet in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and melted.
5. Remove from the oven, and let cool. Use a spatula to remove from sheet pan. Cheese will be more or less the size and texture of potato chips.
6. Layer the basil leaves one on top of the other, roll up like a cigar and cut into thin julienned strips.
7. Put the romaine in a large bowl, add the basil and toss with just enough of the lemon and olive oil to lightly dress the leaves.
8. Divide the lettuce mixture among the plates, add a few tomato halves and sprinkle plate with the sea salt.
9. Poke 3 Parmesan chips into the salad on each plate so the cheese looks as if it is standing up ready to roll like a wheel and serve at once.