Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lettuce-Free Salad

Something I know about you that you probably don't even know about yourself is that you don't really like lettuce that much. You don't hate it, because there's nothing to hate about lettuce; you just think it's kind of pointless. Yes, "pointless" is the perfect word to describe the way lettuce tastes. "Pointless" and maybe "not that great," which is actually three words but you know what I mean.

So that's why you should make this salad, which will make you like raw onions even if you think you don't. That's another thing I know about you that you don't know about yourself.

You will need the following to make enough for four or five small portions or two or three big ones:

3 large or 4 medium-sized tomatoes
1 large cucumber
1 yellow pepper
1 orange pepper
1 small white or red onion
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Whether a salad is completely amazing or totally shitty really depends on whether the vegetables you select are completely amazing or totally shitty. I'm going to make a controversial statement here and say that the tomatoes you choose should be not quite ripe yet, because if you choose tomatoes that are perfectly ripe, you will need to make this salad and eat it literally within the next three seconds. If you wait any longer they will taste like a soggy donkey's ass.

To select a slightly under-ripe tomato, choose one whose colour is just shy of true red, such as this one:

What colour would you say that is? Deep sunset coral? Just-slapped baby's ass? Whatever, that's the colour it should be.

The other vegetables aren't as sensitive as the tomato is, so I didn't take pictures of all of them, but make sure they are all firm and unbruised or everyone will hate your salad, which would be a darn shame.

So first you should chop up the onion. I said here that you should generally chop onion last because it makes everything else taste like raw onion, but in this case, you're just going to have to be careful to either wash the knife and cutting board that you're using once you're done with the onion or to use different ones, because you need the onions to sit in the dressing for a couple mins while you make the rest of the salad. So chop those onions up and put them in a bowl or container, like this:

Then pour a little splash of olive oil and a big splash of balsamic vinegar on them. The vinegar should saturate the onions and pool in the bottom of the container, like so:

Then add salt and pepper. If it seems like you're adding a bit too much salt and pepper, you're probably adding the right amount. Most people undersalt everything and it's destructive.

Okay, cover this sucker with the container top or plastic wrap and put it in the fridge. You probably don't actually need to do any of that, it just seems right to tell you to do it.

BTW you can do this whole bit, with the onions and the vinegar and stuff, up to two weeks in advance. But I know you won't, so just before you make the rest of the salad is fine. As I said, you may think you hate raw onions, but sitting in vinegar for even a few minutes takes that harsh bite right out of them. They'll still have a bite but it will be much mellower and more delicious.

Now, with a clean knife and cutting board, cut the tomatoes into eighths or sixteenths, depending on how big they are, and slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and slice it into those sort of half-moons, if you know what I mean. Then cut up the two peppers. No need to get all neurotic about this, but the pieces should all sort of be around the same size. This shouldn't take all that long, you don't need to make any of these things super tiny.

Toss all the veggies together in a big bowl.

The idea of using all the different-coloured things is to get people to say something like, "Wow, that looks so colourful!" If you can get people to say that, you have won the culinary grand prize. This means that if you want to substitute a yellow tomato or two for the yellow pepper, or something along those lines, you can. Actually, that's kind of a good idea, if your grocery store has yellow tomatoes. If you pull one of those out everyone will really think you are Gordon Ramsay.

Spoon the dressing with the onions over individual bowls of salad just before eating. Anyone who eats this salad will think you're a genius, know why? Because they don't know they don't really like lettuce either.



  1. Wow. The other day I was thinking, "I should tell Jennie to do the recipe for that amazing salad that she made at my dinner party." You read my mind, all the way from over there! I'm SO glad that you did this, I'll have to recreate it for the next dinner party and we'll eat it and toast to you! It was SO good!

    Please add this "testimonial" to the bottom of your recipe post for credibility (haha): "I've had Jennie's No-Lettuce-Salad (sounds kind of like No-Bullshit-Salad which also works, doesn't it?!) and it is amazing. I'm fairly certain that when we finished it off at that dinner party at which she first crafted this salad, more than one person expressed sadness at the sight of an empty bowl. I give two thumbs up!"

  2. add feta, lemon and fresh basil, and subtract the onion and balsamic, and you also have my absolute favourite salad - best in summer though when all of these veggies are fresh and super cheap so as to buy and prepare said salad in bulk :)

  3. Thanks for the testimonial Heather and the tip Kate!

  4. mmmm.....thank looks amazing! I'm always down to try new salad recipes!

  5. One of my favourite salads is lettuce free.

    1 white onion, cut/cubed
    1 large tomato sliced
    1-2 large ripe avocados chopped & set aside
    1 cucumber
    1/2 c. crumbled feta
    sea salt
    cracked peppercorns
    2-3tbsp olive oil
    Gently 'toss' the tomato, cucumber, onion & feta together with olive oil (just enough to cover, you want to be sparring). Add the avocado, and then season with sea salt & cracked pepper to taste.
    This salad is meant to be hot/spicy. :)

  6. I'll definitely be trying that one, sounds awesome!