With Easter fast approaching, you might need some ideas for dinner. I thought now might be a good time to share a little wisdom, and fun trick I learned from hosting last year's Easter dinner. It was a small gathering with both our immediate families and we decided to keep it really simple with a select few offerings. When it came to the salad, I got it stuck in my thick skull to serve it individually plated instead of one big bowl. This idea sprouted from a clear vision I had on how the salad should look. Little did I realize that the individual plating and serving before the main meal would work out even better than I could have imagined.
Traditionally, I make a big salad and place it out with the main course. Without fail, everyone says, "Wow, that looks amazing but I'll have salad later.' Then they dive into all the other offerings, getting too full, and thus leaving lots of yummy salad left over. This brilliant, new plan allowed me to serve the salad before the main course came out. An added bonus was timing, as the hunger meter was beginning to tick, with our guests starting to want more after appetizers. Perfecto mundo! cue the individual plates and witness the entire salad course disappear. Now, I'm no magician, but this was a nifty trick in having no left over salad and plus I got them to eat greens!!! I wholly recommend plating your salad and forcing your guests to enjoy your nutrient rich offering.
The salad I served was a variation on one that I've made many times. This time I scaled back on some ingredients and focused on the Boston lettuce with citrus fruits to keep it clean and fresh, like a burst of Spring. I think this is a light, colorful salad to serve for Easter or brunch during this time of year. It is one of those salads that can actually be prepped a day in advance, making the day of your event much easier. Each of the items below can be cut and stored in containers, then just assembled 15 minutes before serving.
(makes approx. 10)
3 heads of Boston lettuce, leaves carefully separated
3-4 red grapefruits, segmented
4 oranges, segmented
3 avocados, cubed
4 Persian cucumbers or 1 English cucumber, sliced
1 c fennel, shaved
1 c celery, sliced
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2-3 Scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 c chives, chopped
Fennel fronds, chopped
1/3 c Juice of grapefruit & orange
1/2 c Olive oil
* This mixture using only the citrus juices is quite mild. If you want more punch, add a splash of balsamic vinegar.
Cut the cores from the lettuce so the leaves can be separated and kept whole. Wash and set aside to let dry. (If prepped the day before, make sure they are dry, then store them with a slightly damp paper towel and place them in a container or plastic bag in the fridge.)
Segment the citrus fruits, collecting all their juices and reserving for the dressing. Shave, slice and dice up the remaining ingredients and combine them in a bowl.
To prepare the individual plates, place 2-3 full lettuce leaves in a bowl like shape on the plates. Then add several pieces of grapefruit and orange to each plate.
In a separate bowl, combine the citrus juices, oil, salt, pepper and some of the fennel fronds. Whisk together. Since this will be individually plated and not all tossed in a bowl, I recommend combining all elements minus the lettuce and the citrus and lightly dress these items, reserving some of the dressing to drizzle and finish off each plate.
Top with the sliced mixture and drizzle the remaining dressing over each salad topping with some of the fronds. Serve immediately.
Have I mentioned just how pleased I was serving the salad this way? Instead of praying our guests leave room for salad at the end, it was a slam dunk that they ate up every last bite. Truly savoring this super fresh, vitamin packed salad first. And because it is light, they had room for the rest of the meal, too. A ploy I may just employ a bit more often. I hope you do, too.
This salad tastes equally delish if served in one large bowl. You can decorate this any way you like. You can toss all the ingredients together for a green and orange rainbow of color. Or you can present it similar to the individual plates, placing all the lettuce on the bottom and focusing all the other ingredients in the middle. Any way you toss it, you and your guests will get a fresh bite of salad that will brighten more than your senses.