I am truly a salad nut. I could eat salad seven nights a week and never tire of it . . . ever.
One of my favourite salad leaves to use, are the baby gems. I love them sliced into quarters and dressed with a simple vinaigrette, or a tasty blue cheese dressing . . . fabulous along with a scattering of sliced spring onion.
The little inner leaves make perfect little cups to hold a multitude of fillings, creating wonderful little hors oeuvres. I especially like a chicken caesar salad filling in them. With teeny weeny toasted croutons on top they can be a bit messy to eat, but oh so very fun to eat and quite popular with the guests where I work.
I think it's because baby gems have a lot of flavour. No salad wimps these. They have an assertive, almost bitter quality that lends itself perfectly to the salad.
I prepared a delicious green basil dressing to serve these lovely ones I picked up at the shops today. Slightly larger, they made the perfect salad, simply sliced in half, with some of the dressing drizzled over each half. Knive and fork salads . . . my favourite kind of all!
*Little Gems with a Creamy Basil Dressing*
I love this dressing. It has a beautiful colour and flavour. You can also use it on blanched vegetables such as broccoli and asparagus. It's very tasty!
1 cup good quality mayonnaise (I use Hellman's or French) (225g)
8 finely chopped spring onions, both the white and the green parts
1 cup of chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup of fresh flat leaf parsley leaves
the juice of two lemons
1 fat clove of garlic, peeled and chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup creme fraiche (225g)
3 large heads of little gem lettuce, halved
a large hand full of cherry tomatoes, halved
Place the mayonnaise, spring onions, basil,parsley leaves, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper into your blender or the cup of a stick blender. Process and blend until smooth. Add the creme fraiche and pulse once or twice to combine. Cover and chill until you are ready to use it.
Cut each head of lettuce in half and arrange one half on each of six chilled salad plates. Scatter the tomatoe halves around and drizzle with some of the dressing. Serve. Pass any extra dressing at the table. This dressing will keep for several days, stored covered and in the refrigerator.