Antipasto Salad

Q: What’s the best way to improve a green salad?

A: Add salami!

I served this salad last Saturday night to Mom, Handsome Greg, and my fancy guesty big brother Kevin. We ate it alongside the spaghetti in meat sauce and Italian bread with roasted garlic whipped butter. I made way too much, and I’ve been enjoying it for dinner every night since then, straight from the serving bowl.

This is another Lunch Bunch trial recipe. (My day to serve lunch at work is two weeks from today. Nervous!) I’m planning to keep everything the same, except for the croutons. On Saturday, I fried up bits of pizza dough and tossed them in grated Parmesan cheese.

[Wait – that’s a lie. Mom fried up bits of pizza dough and tossed them in grated Parmesan cheese. Oh, and Greg and Mom did all of the chopping. And Mom made the dressing, and marinated the mozzarella. Other than adapting the recipe, I was pretty much useless on this one, as I was busy making frosting for the cupcakes.]

Anyway, the fried pizza dough croutons were deliciously cheesy, golden-crisped nuggets of wonderful on top of the salad. But they don’t stay that way long enough to work for Lunch Bunch, so I’m going to make regular bread croutons in the oven, tossed with olive oil and garlic. Sorry, Lunch Bunchers!

The rest of the salad was just as fabulous: crunchy hearts of romaine, creamy marinated fresh mozzarella, spicy salami, briny artichoke hearts, and sweet basil, all tossed in olive oil and lemon juice.

Recipe after the fold

Antipasto Salad
Adapted from Claire Robinson

6 ounces fresh mozzarella pearls
3/4 cup olive oil, divided
10-12 basil leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
4 ounces pizza dough
1 romaine heart, chopped into bite-sized pieces, about 6 cups
6 ounces salami, diced
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1/8 cup lemon juice

Combine chopped basil with 1/4 cup of olive oil, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid.

Add the mozzarella balls to the olive oil mixture, and stir to combine. Cover the container and marinate the cheese at room temperature for 30-60 minutes, gently shaking the container a few times so the mozzarella stays covered with oil.

Put 1/4 cup of olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the Parmesan cheese to a bowl and set aside.

Unroll the pizza dough and cut off a 4-ounce piece. (I put the rest in the freezer – we’ll see how that turns out!) Cut the piece into thin strips, and snip the strips into 1/4-inch pieces with scissors.

When the oil is hot but not smoking, gently drop in several dough pieces, and shallow-fry them, tossing frequently with a spider strainer or slotted spoon, until golden brown. Transfer the croutons to the bowl with the cheese and toss to coat. Continue until all the dough is fried.

Remove the mozzarella from the plastic container. Add 1/4 cup olive oil along with the lemon juice to the remaining marinade, cover tightly, and shake to combine. Pour the dressing over the lettuce in a large mixing bowl and gently toss.

Top the dressed lettuce with the mozzarella, salami, artichoke hearts, and croutons and serve immediately.

Linked to: Mrs. Happy Homemaker, Big Bear’s Wife

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