Two weeks after the Centers for Disease Control announced that romaine lettuce, likely from California, was sickening dozens of people in more than 30 states, we're still feeling the effects.
Romaine lettuce is practically nonexistent at restaurants right now, and though some grocery chains have found reliable sources of romaine that aren't California, salad-lovers are having to find alternatives.
When the CDC first issued the advisory, many grocery stores cleared out mixed greens and other salad mixes. Two weeks later, customers can often find some leafy greens, but still no romaine, except at some farmers markets.
I don't know about you, but when I go two weeks without a salad, I start to crave one. I don't have a strong preference toward romaine, but I do miss the hydrating crunch of a good Caesar salad right about now. (Or maybe it's just lunch.)
The good news is that thinly sliced cabbage can provide that same texture to any number of salads. Mixed greens don't have the same satisfying texture, but you can add other ingredients to create the multi-dimensional flavor/texture combination that brings us to salads in the first place.
Are you craving salads right about now, too? Have you found other sources of romaine?
Roasted Chickpea Banh Mi Salad
Banh mi sandwiches have inspired countless wraps, tacos and salads that feature the flavors of this popular Vietnamese dish. The recipes usually call for some kind of salty-sweet marinated pork, but this vegetarian version gives chickpeas a similar treatment. Although you could use pickled jalapeños, fresh jalapeños will give it a more traditional heat.
The avocado crema salad dressing could stand on its own as a recipe worth keeping, so feel free to use it on your favorite summer salad. You could also roast these chickpeas on their own for a snack. If you prepare both the chickpeas and the dressing in advance, this salad doesn’t take long to put together. For a Tex-Mex twist, skip the croutons and serve with tortilla chips.
— Addie Broyles
For the chickpeas:
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons neutral oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 clove garlic
Half thumb tip-size piece of peeled fresh ginger
For the croutons:
4 cups 1/2-inch cubed crusty bakery bread (like a baguette)
Scant 1/4 cup olive oil
Pinch of kosher salt
For the avocado crema:
1/2 ripe avocado
2 tablespoons plain whole-milk yogurt
4 to 6 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
For the salad:
1 (5-ounce) box mixed greens
1/2 cup thinly sliced English cucumber
1/2 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
2 green onions, sliced
1 jalapeño, thinly sliced
Quick-pickled radishes and carrots, to taste
Prepare the chickpeas. Heat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drain, rinse and dry the chickpeas and place on the prepared baking sheet. Add all the remaining chickpea ingredients into a high-powered blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Pour the glaze on the chickpeas, tossing to evenly coat. Roast for 30 minutes or until lightly charred, stirring halfway through.
Make the croutons: Heat a 10-inch cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high. Once hot, add the cubed bread. Toss with the oil and salt. Cook for about 5 minutes or until toasted with a slight chew remaining in the center. Remove from the heat. This can be done up to 1 week in advance and stored covered at room temperature.
Make the crema: In a high-powered blender or food processor, add all the crema ingredients; cover and blend until smooth. Add additional water as needed, 1 tablespoon at a time, to reach a sauce/dressing consistency. This can be made up to 1 week in advance.
To assemble the salad, divide greens evenly among 4 plates. Top with roasted chickpeas, croutons, crema and remaining ingredients. For a zippier flavor, add a tiny spoonful of the pickle juice onto the salad.
— From “The Minimalist Kitchen: 100 Wholesome Recipes, Essential Tools and Efficient Techniques” by Melissa Coleman (Oxmoor House, $29.99)
Lime-Sesame Slaw with Cilantro and Peanuts
This is a mash-up of a few slaw recipes I liked: One was heavy on the cilantro, the other on the sesame lime dressing. The dish reminds me of my ex-mother-in-law’s Chinese Cabbage Salad, which calls for crushed dried ramen noodles and ton of sugar in the dressing, and you could certainly add a package of Top Ramen to this if you’re looking for even more crunch. I’m a huge cilantro fan; adjust the amount of cilantro or replace with parsley if you’re not.
For the dressing:
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon agave nectar, honey or sugar
2 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (can use sriracha or other Asian-style hot sauce)
2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil
For the slaw:
1 head cabbage, cored and shredded (can be red, green, napa, or any combination; you’ll need about 6 cups cabbage in all)
2-3 carrots, cut into matchsticks or shredded
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onion
1/2 to 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
3/4 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients and reserve.
Place the shredded cabbage, carrots, peanuts, green onion and cilantro in a bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper and toss. Add dressing and mix thoroughly to combine. Let slaw rest for an hour so that some of the liquid from the cabbage releases. Toss again and add peanuts just before serving.
— Addie Broyles
Greens with Walnuts, Parmesan and Pancetta Vinaigrette
Bitter greens pair with a rich dressing for this take on salade frisée au lardons. The dish typically is made with frisée lettuce, a poached egg and meaty salt pork for the lardons. We take our lead from Paul Bertolli, who refurbished the classic in his 2003 “Cooking by Hand,” using a mix of greens, toasted walnuts, pancetta and Parmesan. To make this salad, use any combination of bitter greens such as frisée, endive, radicchio, escarole or arugula.
To toast the walnuts, spread them evenly on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees until lightly browned and fragrant, 5 to 7 minutes. A sharp Y-shaped vegetable peeler is the perfect tool for shaving the Parmesan cheese. For a heartier meal, and one that harkens back to this salad’s bistro roots, top with a fried egg. Also, don’t allow the dressing to cool before adding it to the greens. Its consistency is best when warm, and its heat slightly softens the sturdy greens. By the same token, make sure the greens are not cold when dressed so the warm dressing doesn’t firm up on contact.
— Christopher Kimball
12 ounces (about 12 cups) mixed bitter greens, torn
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
6 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup walnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
1 ounce (1/2 cup) Parmesan cheese, shaved
Place the greens in a large bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook the pancetta, stirring occasionally, until crisp, about 7 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel–lined plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the skillet, then return it to medium heat. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until light golden brown, about 2 minutes. Add the oil and the vinegar mixture, then remove from the heat and whisk until combined. Let sit for 30 seconds to warm through.
Add the warm dressing, walnuts and 1 teaspoon pepper to the greens and toss well. Taste and season with salt. Divide the salad among plates and top each portion with pancetta and Parmesan. Serves 6.
— From “Milk Street: Tuesday Nights: More than 200 Simple Weeknight Suppers that Deliver Bold Flavor, Fast” by Christopher Kimball (Little, Brown and Company, $35)