Coming soon! GETTING LOST with Erin French
Watch the series premiere Sunday, June 23rd 2ET/1C on Magnolia Network or stream on MAX & Discovery+

Coming soon! GETTING LOST with Erin French
Watch the series premiere Sunday, June 23rd 2ET/1C on Magnolia Network or stream on MAX & Discovery+

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A SALAD of

LEAVES & BLOOMS

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite bedtime tales was from a 1960s book by English author Molly Brett. It was a story about a group of woodland creatures - hedgehogs, owls, frogs, rabbits - who were looking for a place to build their home. They encountered all sorts of challenges along the way, but once they found the perfect spot, they all croaked and hooted at once: "This is the place for me!" In celebration of their homecoming, they collected treasures from the forest to make a special meal. It was the simplest, most gorgeous salad, made of succulent lettuce leaves dotted with forget-me-nots, and they served their creation on lily pads. Even at a young age, I could understand the magic that could come from such a dish.

To me, the perfect salad is one that looks like it fell from the heavens into a sky-high mound. (I'm always telling the ladies, "Tight and tall!") The leaves should be recognizable as belonging to a head of lettuce (no puny leaves or torn-up lettuce - a salad should be served with a steak knife!) and just misted with vinaigrette. (Don't let your salad drown - unless it's a wedge salad.) This recipe is sort of like the Universal Salad Standard. As long as you follow these basic guidelines, you're guaranteed to make big, beautiful ones from here on out.

2 teaspoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

2 teaspoons finely diced shallots

8 ounces mixed lettuce leaves

1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil

Edible flowers

Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

IN A SMALL BOWL, combine the vinegar and shallots. Let the mixture marinate for 15 minutes for the flavors to meld and the shallots to soften.

In a chilled stainless steel bowl, using your hands, gently toss the lettuce leaves with the shallot mixture and the olive oil. Be tender with the leaves, so as not to tear or bruise them.

Arrange the leaves in a beautiful bowl or on a platter, sprinkle with edible flowers, and serve with fresh pepper.

COOKS NOTE: Tossing the leaves in a chilled bowl will help keep your lettuces perky. Always use your hands to toss a salad, and be gentle. Tongs will only damage the leaves. Rinsing your hands in very cold water to chill them down before tossing the lettuces will also help. When plating, think of the leaves of lettuce as being like feathers falling gently from the clouds - they should mound in a nice, high tuft.

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