Cook the Book

Romaine Salad with Candied Walnuts and Pecorino From 'Roberta's'

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[Photograph: Dave Potez]

We've made our fair share of Caesar salads here on Serious Eats over the years. Heck, I've made a few of them. So I'm not exactly breaking new ground here. But until I picked up the Roberta's cookbook, I had never seen a version so austere in appearance and yet bold in flavor.

At its most basic, the salad is simply romaine hearts tossed in a creamy dressing and topped with walnuts and cheese. Yet the dressing alone packs a wallop with its copious anchovies, roasted and raw garlic, and duo of vinegars. The walnuts, crunchy and sweet, sing in harmony with the salty pecorino. And the crisp romaine is the perfect vehicle for it all: the dressing clings effortlessly to its wrinkles and the walnuts are held in its cupped leaves.

Why I picked this recipe: What goes better with pizza and pasta than a crisp, tangy romaine salad?

What worked: Besides getting to slather the leftover briny and sweet salad dressing on just about everything, my favorite thing about making this dish was discovering just how great candied walnuts are in a Caesar-style salad.

What didn't: No problems here.

Suggested tweaks: I wouldn't recommend tweaking anything here. However, you will have leftover dressing and walnuts. I'd recommend eating the walnuts for a snack or serving them alongside a cheeseplate. Put the dressing on anything you can get your hands on. It will work well on any sturdy lettuce in case you'd like to make another salad.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Roberta's to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.

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