Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Grilled Chef’s Salads with Crispy Cheese Rounds

Chef’s salads are hearty, yet not too heavy, depending, of course, on what you put in them. For this recipe, I pan-grilled lean turkey cutlets, then gave the already-cooked ham a quick sear in the pan too, so that both meats provided a little smoky flavor to the salad. Fresh vegetables and mild Swiss cheese round it out, along with a simple, light vinaigrette.

Traditional chef’s salads often include two types of cheese—Swiss and cheddar are common fare. For a little kick, turn the cheddar (or cheddar-jack mix) into crispy little rounds to sit atop the meat and vegetables. They couldn’t be easier to make: divide shredded cheese into one-tablespoon mounds on a parchment-paper-lined pan, bake about five minutes, and let cool. Done. Fun, pretty, and tasty.

Note: I requested a three-ounce chunk of baby Swiss cheese at a cheese shop, so that I could dice it into small cubes. If you have Swiss slices instead, simply cut them into short, thin strips.

Baby Swiss Chunk
Serves 2


For the Vinaigrette
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp crushed, dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • 6 tbsp shredded cheddar or cheddar-jack mix
  • olive oil, for brushing
  • 1/3 lb turkey breast cutlets
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 lb fully cooked smoked ham slice, about 1/2-inch thick
  • 5 cups torn or coarsely chopped escarole (or romaine)
  • 8 thin slices seedless cucumber
  • 8 grape tomatoes, cut lengthwise in half
  • 2 small hard-boiled eggs, cut lengthwise in half
  • 3 oz Swiss cheese, diced
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
Salad Toppings

For the Vinaigrette
  1. Combine the garlic, vinegar, mustard, and oregano in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Red Wine-Dijon Vinaigrette
For the Salad
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a shallow baking ban with parchment paper.
  2. Divide the shredded cheese into 6 small mounds on the paper, flattening slightly into about 1-inch-diameter disks. Bake until bubbly and beginning to brown, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and transfer the cheese rounds on the paper to a cooling rack. They'll turn crispy as they cool.
Cheese Ready to Bake 
Baked Cheese Rounds
  1. Heat a grill-pan over medium-high heat and brush with olive oil. Season the turkey cutlets with salt and pepper and grill until lightly charred and just cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side, depending on thickness. Remove to a cutting board.
  2. Brush the pan with a little more oil and grill the ham until lightly charred, 2-3 minutes per side. Remove to the cutting board with the turkey. Allow the meats to cool completely, then cut into thin slices.
Turkey Cutlets Beginning to Grill
Grilled Turkey Cutlets 
Ham Beginning to Grill 
Grilled Ham
Sliced Ham and Turkey
  1. Divide the escarole between 2 plates. Top with the turkey and ham, cucumber, tomatoes, eggs, Swiss cheese, and onion.
Drizzle each salad with vinaigrette and serve with baked cheese rounds on top.

Grilled Chef’s Salads with Crispy Cheese Rounds

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