Tonight I tried to make one of the salads from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. I did try. Laziness and Impatience altered the recipe. Then the results weren't what I'd hoped (George handed his salad over to me, half-eaten), so I changed the recipe even more. Of course Doug ate the whole thing and said it was fabulous. Doug To The Rescue again.
Bittman's recipe called for mesclun greens, but I don't like buying my greens stored in plastic, and outside New Haven I can't find loose lettuce mixes like they sell in Berkeley. Plastic-stored greens give me that not-so-fresh feeling, so I bought heads of endive and red leaf and Boston lettuce instead. Bittman suggested dressing the greens with a Honey-Garlic Vinaigrette, but I shrugged and just squirted on some fresh lemon juice. George approved.
Meanwhile, I carmelized 2 onions and 2 shallots in some extra virgin olive oil on low heat for almost an hour. According to Bittman's instructions, I added 2 Tablespoons honey, several grinds of fresh pepper, a large amount of salt, and 2 Tablespoons fresh thyme. This was the good part. Then Bittman said to add a cup of pitted, oil-cured black olives and keep sautéeing. The olives had too sharp a flavor and ruined everything. Maybe if I'd sautéed them longer the flavor would have mellowed, but I got hungry and tired of stirring. Everything else tasted fine, though, so George and I agreed to leave out the olives next time. Neither George nor I could taste the thyme and pepper at all because I put them in so early I cooked their flavor away. You need to use dried herbs if you want the flavor to survive a lot of cooking. It's probably fine without them. So here's the altered recipe:
3 onions, sliced, or 2 onions and some shallots, or whatever
3 Tablespoons olive oil (George Mateljan says you should cook with high-oleic safflower instead)
1 heaping tsp. salt
2 Tablespoons honey
4 Cups bite-sized lettuce greens plus a head of endive, torn into bits
juice of 1 lemon
1. Over low heat, sauté the onions, salt, and honey in the oil for 30 minutes to an hour, until it tastes really good. Let cool a little.
2. Toss the lettuce and endive with lemon juice. Top with onion mixture and serve.
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