Bread SaladPosted: May 4, 2012
About two years ago my husband took me to Dahlia Lounge (http://tomdouglas.com/index.php?page=dahlia-lounge) for the first time. Dahlia Lounge is one of many restaurants owned by Seattle area celebrity chef Tom Douglas. The first time we saw the place was actually when we were attempting to go to another one of TD’s restaurants, Serious Pie. John loves pizza, so I tried taking him there as a surprise. Unfortunately they don’t take reservations and when we got there, there was a three hour wait. So when trying to figure out a plan B, we passed Dahlia Lounge. Now, the wait there was even longer, but it made its way to our list of places to try.
So, the first time we went to Dahlia Lounge it was for an awesome dinner (actually, we’ve only ever been there for dinner, but I hear they have great brunch too). The interior was beautiful, the lighting romantic, and as soon as you walk in you can smell the wood burning stove in the kitchen. We asked our server what she recommended and she noted the bread salad. Apparently it was their signature dish. Now, I’m not usually one for putting bread or any of its family members into things (I’m not a big fan of meatballs or meatloaf, mostly I’ve deciphered, due to the breadcrumbs), so I let John order it, and I got the clams as an appetizer instead. Boy had I made a mistake. It was one of the greatest things I had ever had, and although my clams were fantastic, nothing could compare to that bread salad.
One of John’s closest friends came to visit us from Cleveland and we wanted to take him to a couple of our favorite places. Among them this fantastic Chinese place in a little strip mall in Redmond where we live, a cute local bar in Bellevue to watch a basketball game, and Dahlia Lounge. We explained leading up that everything is good, but if you go you have to get the bread salad. We all very much enjoyed our meals, but once more, the bread salad out-shined everything else.
Now, for something this good, and let’s be honest, is just a salad, how difficult could it be to make? It may seem simple, but the flavors are fairly complex, and there a couple flavors that are so slight that you may not be able to decipher them on their own, but without them it is very apparent that something is missing. Once I figured out what those flavors were, let’s just say, the rest is history. I did change it up just slightly (Dahlia Lounge uses some form of cured sausage to top the salad, but I prefer crisped up prosciutto). I have a feeling now that John and I will be having bread salads much more frequently, but in the comfort of our own home. You all should try it for yourselves and learn the true majesty of the Dahlia Lounge bread salad.
2 cups rustic bread, cut into large cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
a few slices of prosciutto
3 tablespoons pesto, divided (I know, I know, I’m cheating, but you just don’t always have the time to make everything from scratch)
1 1/2 cup leafy greens
2 Belgian endive, cut into thick slices
2 tablespoons nicoise olives, cut into halves (you can substitute kalamata if they are easier to find, but they tend to have a stronger flavor than the nicoise)
3 tablespoons ciliegine (bite size mozzarella balls), cut into halves
3 tablespoons cherry tomatoes, cut in half
juice from 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
- First things first, you have to get the bread grilled. get your grill, grill pan, or oven your oven heating up (you can use anything to toas the bread really, but a grill is going to get you that fantastic flavor that you can’t really get anywhere else). Next, put the bread cubes into a large bowl, drizzle it with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and toss the bread in order to get a good even coating on the bread. At this point I also sprinkle the bread with a little kosher salt. Once the grill is hot, toss the bread on it and grill it 6-8 minutes, turning once to get a good scorch on it.
- At the same time, get your oven heated up to 400° and lightly grease a baking sheet and put the prosciutto on it in an even layer. Toss the prosciutto in the oven and crisp it up for about 4 or 5 minutes. The timing of this will differ pretty drastically depending on how thick or thin your prosciutto is cut, so keep your eye on it. Once you pull it out of the oven let it cool until you can pick it up and crumble it with your hands.
- While the bread grills, gather up all of your remaining ingredients. When the bread is done, put it back into your original big bowl and drizzle 2 of the tablespoons of pesto over it and toss to get an even coating of pesto on the bread. This can be tough, but just keep tossing until it looks good enough. Let the bread sit and cool for a minute so you don’t wilt the greens when they are combined. Add the greens, endive, olives, ciliegine, and tomatoes and toss lightly to get everything combined and the pesto spread around. Squeeze the lemon juice over the salad, and add the remaining olive oil and pesto and toss everything together until all components have a nice coating of the dressing that has been created with the olive oil, pesto and lemon juice. Add some salt and pepper to taste. Finally, plate the salads and sprinkle with some freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, and top it with a little crumble of the toasted prosciutto. Your life will never be the same again.