Chicago-style Garbage Salad by Rick Tramonto

April 27, 2010 (CHICAGO) Serves 4

Is this guy serious? Does he really think anyone wants to make something called "garbage salad"? If you are from Chicago, you know the answer is a resounding "Yes!" This salad is similar to a chopped salad, but with more protein than that venerable American offering, in the form of salumi and cheese--not unlike antipasti. I make this at home all the time with whatever veggies, salumi, and cheese we have in the house and the boys scarf it right up. The work is in the prepping-- chopping, trimming, slicing--but once that's done (and it can be done a little ahead of time), it's just a matter of pitching everything into a big bowl and tossing with dressing. Use as many of the ingredients here as you can, or add your own. My "garbage" may not be your "garbage"!

one-half head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cup diced cucumber
1 cup thinly sliced radishes
1 roasted red bell pepper, seeded and julienned
1 roasted yellow bell pepper, seeded and julienned
1 rib celery, thinly sliced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
one-half red onion, thinly sliced
3 ounces provolone cheese, thinly sliced into julienne
3 ounces salumi (such as finocchiona, Calabrese, or sopressata), thinly sliced and julienned
1 cup garbanzo or chi chi beans
one-half cup pitted kalamata olives
4 pepperoncini or banana peppers
2 cups Garlic Croutons (below)
one-quarter cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 cup Tramonto's House Dressing (below)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and cracked fresh black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

In a large mixing bowl, mix together the iceberg and romaine lettuce, cucumber, radishes, red and yellow roasted peppers, celery, tomatoes, and onion. Add the provolone and salumi and toss to mix. Add the beans, olives, pepperoncini, croutons, and half of the Parmesan and toss again. Spoon the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan, the parsley, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Garlic Croutons
Makes about 4 cups

1 and one-half cups olive oil
one-half cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
one-half clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
Leaves from 6-inch sprig rosemary, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 and one-half-pound loaf focaccia or any crusty bread, cut into ½-inch cubes

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, stir together the olive oil, Parmesan, and garlic. Add the thyme and rosemary and season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the bread cubes and toss gently to coat. Spread the bread cubes in a baking dish, leaving a little space between the cubes. Bake, stirring several times to insure even browning, for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Transfer the croutons to a cool plate or pan and let cool to room temperature. Store in a tightly lidded container at room temperature for up 2 weeks.

Tramonto's House Dressing
Makes about 2 cups

one-quarter cup red wine vinegar
one-quarter cup Champagne vinegar
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 one-half cups extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
Pinch of chopped fresh or dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In the jar of a blender, combine the wine vinegar, Champagne vinegar, water, sugar, dry mustard, Dijon mustard, and garlic. Process until blended. With the motor running, add the oil in a drizzle through the lid until the dressing emulsifies. Pour the dressing into a lidded glass jar and stir in the basil, oregano, and red pepper flakes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover the jar and shake gently to mix. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Stir or gently shake the dressing before using.

—From Steak with Friends: At Home, with Rick Tramonto by Rick Tramonto with Mary Goodbody/Andrews McMeel Publishing

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