Oh Baby!

Make this stunning baby lettuce salad served on a platter the star of your holiday buffet.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY SHANE O’DONNELL

It’s the little touches that separate the stand-out entertainers from the average ones. It’s like my friend Tracy. She takes a seafood boil to another level simply by placing long, warm sourdough baguettes from Bay Cities Bakery on the table. Wrapped in crisp, white napkins, the baguettes stretch across the entire table and offer a communal, festive vibe to the gathering. Or my friend Elissa, who greets guests with a large, square, bamboo chopping block turned into a farm-fresh crudité platter. Dotted with various savory dips, it is so colorful and delicious, you barely care what’s for dinner.

This plattered salad, with its medley of holiday hues, has that same kind of “wowing” effect. Shop at your local farmers market for the most colorful and tasty heirloom lettuce and beet varieties. You can’t top the pure flavor and crisp texture of a veggie that has not been refrigerated.


BABY LETTUCE HOLIDAY SALAD

  • 3 medium or 2 large red or pink beets
  • 1/3 cup rough chopped, roasted marcona almonds
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 2 heads chartreuse baby lettuce
  • 2 heads maroon or dark red baby lettuce
  • ¼ cup flat leaf parsley
  • ¼ cup slivered red onion
  • Feta cheese – preferably a goat cheese version

Preheat oven to 350º. Set beets in pan with ¼ inch water. Cover with foil and bake for approximately 1 hour.  Let cool.

Whisk oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, honey and lemon zest.

Rub beets with paper towel to remove peel. Cut into matchsticks. Combine beets, 1 tablespoon of dressing and ½ cup of pomegranate seeds.

In large bowl, toss dark lettuce leaves, half of the nuts and half of the parsley with half the remaining dressing. Repeat with a large bowl containing chartreuse-colored lettuce.

On platter, arrange vertical line of green lettuce, then vertical line of dark lettuce. Repeat until platter is covered. Arrange beets on top—in between the lines of lettuce. Top with crumbled feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste. Serves 10.

 

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