SALADE DE LAITUE (for six)
“How much lettuce to use? Play it by eye and by known appetites. A large head of Boston lettuce will weigh up to ¾ pound and should serve 4 to 6, while a large head of romaine will weigh over 1 pound and serve 6 to 8. One of the loose leaf varieties might weigh only ½ pound and serve only 2 or 3. Use all one kind, like Boston, but a mixture of leaves including perhaps some watercress or arugula, is attractive, and you’ll certainly want to mix in some tender other leaves when you have such strong and slightly bitter greens as escarole or mature curly endive.” Julia Child
1 pound or so of salad greens, all one kind or a mixture
2/3 cup French sauce vinaigrette to accompany
1. Carefully inspect each head of lettuce you buy, choosing only specimens that are fresh and crisp. If you won’t be preparing them at once, layer loosely in paper towels, very slightly dampened if the greens seem unusually dry, and refrigerate them in a refrigerator drawer of plastic bag.
2. When you’re ready to proceed cut the core or stem out of the head, separate the leaves and drop them into a large bowl of cold water. Swish around gently so that the water enters each crevice, then let the leaves rest a moment, allowing any grit to sink down. Remove the leaves one by one, tearing off any discolored or wilted areas and, if you are serving shortly, tear the leaves into convenient size.
3. Wet greens wilt when stored and wet leaves dilute a salad dressing. The old fashioned method for drying salad greens was to roll the leaves loosely between clean towels, or to swing them in a salad basket. Today, if you don’t already have one, get yourself a salad spinner.
4. Shortly before serving, turn the greens into a salad bowl, pour on half of the well blended dressing and swoop up the leaves with a spoon and fork, turning them over and over several times, and adding a little more of the dressing as needed so that all the leaves are lightly and uniformly coated. Taste a leaf analytically: toss in more salt, pepper, vinegar or lemon juice as needed. Serve at once.
NOTE: Create a reformed head. “In this attractive presentation, the washed and dried salad greens are loosely arranged in a bowl to look again like a large head of Boston lettuce; the dressing is dribbled over the leaves just before serving.” Julia Child
adapted from Julia Child, The Way to Cook