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Photo by: Joseph De Leo
A chef’s salad, when it rises above some of the conventions that make it feel like it’s stuck in the 1950s or ’60s, is really an excellent dish. Here I’ve given it a smoky makeover, adding roasted peppers and a creamy barbecue dressing. Gone too is the iceberg lettuce. In its original incarnation, iceberg leaves were oftentimes the “bowl” in which the salad reposed—a cute but dated idea. Instead, I use hearts of romaine and, if I have some around, I’ll use a bit of mesclun mix or other greens. Everything is lined up nicely on a platter, then served with the dressing on the side. This salad involves a number of steps, but nothing complicated and you can save a little time if you use raw pepper strips instead of roasted.
1. Using a grill or gas burner, roast the peppers by holding them directly over the flame with metal tongs until the entire surface is blistered and charred. Or, using a broiler, simply place peppers on a baking sheet on the top shelf of the oven. (In either case, you’ll have to turn the peppers often to roast them evenly.) Put the hot peppers in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. When the peppers are cool enough to handle, rub or scrape off the skins (with the back of a paring knife blade) and cut out the stems and seeds. Cut the peppers into strips and set them aside in a small bowl.
3. To assemble the salad, wash the lettuce and pat the leaves dry. Stack the leaves and Cut into ½-inch-wide crosswise strips. Arrange the lettuce down the center of a large serving platter. On one side of the lettuce, make a row of cherry tomatoes, then a row of the pepper strips.
4. Make a row of the ham strips on the other side of the lettuce. Halve the avocados and remove the pit. Cut the flesh into large chunks. Spoon the avocado chunks in a row down the other side of the ham. Divide the quartered eggs evenly on both sides. Cut the cheddar into strips and scatter them around.
5. Blend all of the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Transfer to a serving bowl and pass the dressing at the table.
Nutrients per serving (% daily value)
Nutritional information is based on 2 tablespoons of the Creamy Barbecue Dressing, 1/2 lb of thick-cut ham and 6oz of smoked cheddar cheese.
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