I am usually hard-pressed to find a salad that’s a crowd-pleaser across the board. And I’m not talking about a dinky little side salad with chopped lettuce and maybe a couple slices of cucumber and tomato…I’m talking about a real salad that can qualify as a full meal.
I’ve noticed that a lot of girls usually go for a sweet/savory combo, like a salad of pears, caramelized nuts, and cheese (like brie or blue!) on a bed of field greens, with some kind of fruity dressing like raspberry walnut. Definitely one of my favorite salads, but ladies, I admit, it’s basically dessert masquerading as salad.
And guys…well, in my experience guys go for anything with bold flavors that is far from a salad in form but still bears the term “salad” in name. Like pasta salad, taco salad (served on a bed of tortilla chips instead of lettuce!), and a whole lot of grilled meat served on a tiny little bed of lettuce. (Not that I blame you, guys – it’s hard to find a salad that can be a satisfying meal!)
That’s where this salad comes in. For the guys, it’s hearty with beans and cheese, and bold-flavored with olives, scallion, and a garlic-y lemon dressing. And for the ladies…well, just give it a try and if the fantastic combo of flavors doesn’t seal the deal, then the crunchy breadcrumb topping will…plus the fact that with a salad like this you can enjoy dessert after the meal instead of during it. ;)
Breadcrumb Topping (recipe below)
Lemon Olive Oil Dressing (recipe below)
4-6 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (or any lettuce you like)
2 scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts)
1 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3-4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese (I used fresh mozzarella balls called bocconcini)
A handful of good quality olives
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 very small onion, finely diced
1 large clove garlic, grated on a microplane
4 tablespoons Panko breadcrumbs
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh minced (or 1/2 teaspoon dried) thyme, rosemary, or dill
2 tablespoons fresh minced parsley
Pinch each salt and pepper
Lemon Olive Oil Dressing:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 tsp crushed dried mint
1 small clove garlic, grated on a microplane
Pinch each salt and pepper
For the Breadcrumb Topping: In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat; add the onion and sauté until tender and just starting to brown (about 3 minutes), stirring occasionally. Turn the heat down to low and add the garlic and bread crumbs; sauté until the garlic is fragrant and the breadcrumbs are light golden brown (about 2 minutes), stirring frequently. Turn off heat and stir in the herbs and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cool completely.
For the Lemon Olive Oil Dressing: Whisk together all ingredients.
To Assemble: Divide the lettuce between 2 plates or bowls. On the top of each, scatter the scallions, chickpeas, mozzarella cheese, and black olives. Drizzle on the dressing, then top with the breadcrumb topping.