Just when I think I've combined bread, lettuce, cured ham, and tomatoes in every conceivable way, I stumble across a new delicious way to get it done. This recipe from Martha Stewart's Dinner At Home uses the hearts from four heads of Boston lettuce as a base (you can save the outer leaves for another salad) and then adds crunchy croutons, crispy ham, and sautéed cherry tomatoes. None of these elements sound particularly interesting on their own, but each manages to have a little edge.
The croutons are cooked with thinly sliced red onion, picking up some of the onion's sweetness, while also turning golden brown. The ham is sautéed briefly until it just starts to firm up. The final flourish comes with the cherry tomatoes, which are added to the pan and cooked until just starting to turn soft. Then the dressing is poured in, where it bubbles immediately. This is all then poured over the lettuce, adding another layer of flavor to this surprisingly flavorful salad.
- 4 heads Boston lettuce, outer leaves removed, hearts split in half
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 small baguette, crust removed, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 8 thin slices serrano (about 6 ounces)
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes (about 5 ounces)
- salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
Place the lettuce hearts on a large platter.
Pour two tablespoons of the olive oil into a large skillet set over medium heat. When shimmering, add the onion and bread cubes. Cook, stirring often, until bread crumbs are golden brown, four to five minutes. When done, remove with a slotted spoon, and place on top of the lettuce hearts.
Turn heat to medium-high, and lay in as many of the serrano slices as will fit in one layer. Cook, turning once, until the slices are crisp, just a few seconds on each side. Repeat process until all the serrano slices are cooked. Arrange crisp slices on top of lettuce hearts.
Reduce heat to medium, and add the tomatoes to the skillet. Toss well to coat the tomatoes with oil in the skillet, and season with salt and pepper. Cook until soft, about two minutes. Pour in the sherry vinegar and remaining tablespoon of oil. Let the mixture bubble for a second, turn off the heat, and pour contents of skillet over the lettuce hearts. Serve immediately. Season with more salt and pepper to taste.