Market Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette
Source: Josh Even, Tosca Cafe
This recipe was demonstrated for CUESA’s Market to Table program on February 4, 2017.
We created this salad so we could utilize the different greens available throughout the year in the Bay Area. You definitely do not have to stick to the lettuces suggested below. Use whatever is beautiful. I always like to use something bitter to cut through the acidity of the dressing, but that could be any chicory or bitter green. It doesn’t have to be dandelion. I like to use butter lettuce when it’s available, for its buttery feel, and romaine for its crunch and crispness. The arugula adds spice. But again, use whatever you like. Watercress would be delicious, or pea tendrils, or fava leaves.
At Tosca, we use imported wild dried oregano. It’s really amazing stuff and I highly recommend it if you can find it. Also, fresh oregano will work wonderfully. If you go with the fresh stuff, just be aware that you’ll want to make the vinaigrette the night before, so it can steep in the refrigerator overnight. Use four or five sprigs of oregano, combining the ingredients in a jar, and give it a good shake. The dressing will last a few days in the refrigerator, whether you use dried or fresh oregano.
Pumpkin Seed Garnish
6 tablespoons raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Small pinch ground chile flakes
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons dry oregano
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt (such as Jacobsen’s)
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
½ clove garlic
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ bunch tender red dandelion leaves
1 bunch wild arugula
2 small heads butter lettuce
1 head romaine
¼ pound aged Parmesan
Flaky sea salt
To prepare the pumpkin seeds: Pre-heat the oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds, kosher salt, and 1 tablespoon olive oil and stir until the seeds are evenly coated. Spread the seeds onto the baking sheet in a single layer, and bake for 5 minutes. Check for doneness (they should be slightly puffed up and golden in color). If they are not done, stir the seeds and rearrange into a single layer, taking care to move the seeds from the edges to the center, and bake for an additional 2-3 minutes. Repeat until the desired color is achieved. Remove the seeds from the oven and sprinkle with the chile flakes. Toss to incorporate.
To make the vinaigrette: Combine the coriander, oregano, salt, and two vinegars in a mixing bowl and mix well. Using a microplane, grate the garlic into the bowl with the vinegar and spices. Slowly add the olive oil while whisking vigorously. Set aside and refrigerate.
To prepare the greens: Fill a very large mixing bowl with water and ice (a clean sink could be perfect for this at home). Start by trimming the roots, if there are any still attached, and removing any damaged leaves from your greens. Place the individual leaves in the ice bath and agitate gently by hand. Set aside to soak for 15 minutes. Carefully lift the floating greens from the water, allowing any particles to fall to the bottom of the bowl, and dry in a salad spinner. Drying in batches will help to avoid crushing the delicate leaves.
In a large mixing bowl, add the greens and season to taste with flaky sea salt. Give the dressing a good whisk and add just enough to lightly coat the greens. Toss gently with your hands, taking care to make sure that each leaf is adequately dressed. To serve, arrange the dressed greens on a large platter and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds. Grate the parmesan over the salad with a microplane, and finish with a drizzle of grassy, spicy olive oil.