I love chop salads because you can change them to suit your whim or the season. Substitute diced salami for the bacon or diced Gouda for the Parmesan. Add a handful of diced celery or some cooked garbanzo beans. Just keep in mind that everything should be cut into small pieces and there should be more vegetables than lettuce.
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
for the mustard vinaigrette:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
½ pound sliced bacon
6 ounces sugar snap peas (1½ cups), strings removed, cut in half on a diagonal
1½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears)
½ head romaine
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cut into ¼-inch dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
½ medium red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice
½ bunch radishes, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
½ bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about ¾ cup)
½ pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed, cut in half
1 cup fresh basil leaves (about 1 ounce), cut into thin strips
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
To make the mustard vinaigrette, combine the vinegar, lemon juice, mustard, and garlic in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil until emulsified. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp and drain on paper towels, discarding the fat. Chop the bacon and set aside.
Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil and set up a bowl of ice water. Set a strainer filled with the snap peas into the saucepan and cook for a minute or two. Remove the snap peas and immediately plunge them into the bowl of ice water. Put the corn in the strainer and put it into the saucepan of boiling water for a minute or two. Remove the corn and plunge it into the ice water with the peas. Drain the corn and peas and set aside.
Chop the romaine leaves and place them in a large bowl. You should have about 4 cups chopped leaves. Add the peas, corn, cucumber, carrot, red pepper, radishes, scallions, tomatoes, and basil to the bowl, then toss with enough vinaigrette to coat everything lightly. Add the Parmesan, toss again, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Mound the salad on a large platter and sprinkle the bacon over the top.
To make this ahead of time: Fry and the bacon early in the day and store it in the refrigerator Reheat it for a few minutes in a 400°F oven until warm. Make the vinaigrette a few days ahead and store it, covered, in the refrigerator. Prepare all the vegetables several hours ahead and keep them covered and refrigerated. Chop the lettuce, slice the and toss the salad at the last minute.