Butter lettuce is one of those tricky greens to work with, since it’s high in water content and has such a delicate texture. The wrong dressing can yield bland results, and over tossing can bruise the leaves. I’ve experimented a failed a few times, but I think I’ve landed on the key ingredient to the best dressing for butter lettuce: mashed garlic. I used to shy away from raw garlic, until my lovely French friend shared her family secret: crush open the clove, and remove the inner-most greenish sprout that’s attached to the root end. Somehow this takes away the acrid taste that gives garlic its bad reputation, and makes it palatable and bright.
This salad is surprising because of the sweet, tart strawberries, which are so good right now! The pink peppercorns balance out the sweetness of the fruit with a taste profile that’s often described as more like a chile pepper or floral berry than an actual peppercorn. When crushed , its oily pink husk imparts an essential oil that mixes throughout the salad and takes everything to another level!
Strawberry + Butter Lettuce Salad
1 head butter lettuce
8 large strawberries, sliced
handful of slivered almonds
1/4 cup sheep feta
small clove of garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp pink peppercorns
juice of one lemon or lime (1 tbsp)
1 tbsp walnut oil
2 tbsp olive oil
fresh cracked black pepper
1. Toast the almonds in a 350 degree oven for 5-7 minutes, or until nicely browned.
2. Make the dressing: in a mortar & pestle, mash the clove of garlic with the salt until smooth. Mash in the pink peppercorns until roughly broken. Whisk in lemon or lime juice (I think I used lime in the original recipe, but lemon would probably work better); and then whisk in the walnut and olive oils. Mix in the black pepper.
3. Toss together lettuce, strawberries, almonds & feta with the dressing. Enjoy!