Each time I have served this salad, guests have taken a bite, paused, and tried to figure out what was adding such a refreshing note. Some have guessed that it was mint, others have not, but all have loved this unusual addition. The contrasting textures–the crunch of the romaine leaves paired with the salty creaminess of ricotta– also add to the salad’s appeal. The tomatoes provide some visual pizzazz with their rich crimson hue. It’s great as a garnish to grilled lamb chops or chicken.
2 medium heads romaine lettuce (about 1 1/4 pounds total)
1/3 cup thinly julienned mint leaves
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup ricotta
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 grape tomatoes, halved
1. Remove the leaves from the head of romaine, rinse, and then pat them dry. Stack 3 to 4 leaves on top of each other, then cut 1/2 inch wide strips lengthwise from the leaves. Cut out and discard the tough center veins from all but the small, inner leaves. Continue until you have 4 cups well packed strips. (Save any extra romaine leaves for another use.) Place romaine strips in a salad bowl along with the julienned mint, and toss well to combine. Cover with several dampened paper towels and refrigerate 30 minutes or up to 1 hour to chill.
2. Break the ricotta into small pieces and sprinkle these over the romaine and mint. Drizzle lemon juice and olive oil over the mixture. Add the tomatoes. Season with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Toss well until the ricotta has broken into small bits. Serve immediately. Serves 4.
Note: To julienne mint leaves, stack 3 to 4 leaves on top of each other, then, starting at the base of the leaves, roll up tightly into a cylinder like a cigarette. With a sharp knife, slice the roll into very thin strips.
© Copyright Betty Rosbottom 2011
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