Not all salads are created equal. Some are complex, with many competing flavors and others are simple and subtle. In the salad world, both are needed. This is a simple one; a lovely butter lettuce and watercress salad with a creamy walnut dressing. Now don’t misunderstand me, by “simple” I don’t mean boring, I mean classic and elegant. A simple salad can compliment any meal without overwhelming it and the flavors used are often a bit more earthy.
Butter lettuce, a lovely mild lettuce with a sweet buttery taste, is versatile and a great source of vitamins A and C. Watercress (another favorite of mine), happens to be considered a superfood. Believe it or not, watercress contains more vitamin C than an orange, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, and more folate than bananas. So if you don’t include watercress in your diet, you better start.
Watercress contains vitamin A, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus making its health benefit limitless. Watercress has a slightly peppery taste that can elevate a rather simple salad to a whole new level. The slight peppery flavor is further complemented here by the delicious creamy walnut dressing and toasted panko bead crumbs.
My creamy walnut dressing is loaded with walnuts, which are also known as-the worlds most perfect nut. Apple cider vinegar, lemon and tarragon compliment the nutty flavor elevating this simple salad to an incredibly flavorful memorable one. Because this is a “creamy” dressing, some may shy away from it from a health perspective, but the current research on heart-healthy benefits of following a more Mediterranean diet (and walnuts in particular) may just sway you.
Butter Lettuce And Watercress Salad With Creamy Walnut Dressing
- For the Walnut Dressing:
- 1/3 cup plain panko bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup, plus 3 teaspoons Extra Virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/3 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/3 cup water
- 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 spring tarragon, leaves removed
- 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- For the Salad:
- 2 heads butter lettuce, cleaned and torn into bite-size pieces
- 1-2 bunches baby watercress, cleaned, trimmed of large stems
- Step 1 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- Step 2 In a small bowl add the panko breadcrumbs and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Toss well. Place the breadcrumbs on 1/2 of the baking sheet. Spread the walnuts on the other half of the baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake till regrant, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
- Step 3 Once the walnuts have cooled, take 1/3 cup of the toasted walnuts, roughly chop and set aside for later. Take the remaining 1 cup of walnuts and place in a kitchen mixer fitted with a blade attachment. Blend in high till a creamy walnut butter has formed.
- Step 4 To the food processor add the lemon juice, water, vinegar, tarragon, parsley, 1 teaspoon salt and black pepper. Blend well to incorporate. With the mixer on low, slowly add 1/4 cup olive oil. Set aside.
- Step 5 Place the butter lettuce and watercress in a large serving bowl. Sprinkle some of the walnut dressing onto the lettuce and gently toss. Adjust the amount of dressing as needed per taste.
- Step 6 Divide the salad amount the serving plates. Sprinkle with the toasted breadcrumbs and the reserved chopped walnuts. Drizzle the salads with remaining two teaspoons of olive oil and serve right away.
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