Dana Slatkin

Tomato and Cheddar Salad with Creamy Yogurt Dressing

Tomato-Cheddar Salad

Summer is salad season. In my house, that means the salad bowl is on the table just about every night. A few months ago, my 3-year-old and I planted six packets of lettuce seeds, hoping even a few would sprout. Then, one afternoon this week, Cary disappeared into the garden while I was cooking dinner. Some time after, he came running up to me beaming with a fistful of beautiful, edible leaves in his hands.

So I came up with this salad for Cary, who loves to nibble on lettuce leaves but hasn’t quite kindled an affinity for salad. I started by deconstructing his favorite lunch, Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Plum Tomato Soup, adding some crisp leaves of lettuce to homemade cheddar croutons and precious yellow and red cherry tomatoes. As for the dressing, it had to be the creamy, kid-friendly kind. This simple, healthy version of ranch was a big hit.

In order to avoid the dreaded browning and sliming effect that the refrigerator can have on lettuce, make sure you store the leaves properly. Separate the leaves from the head and wash them immediately, discarding any plastic or packaging. I don’t recommend buying the pre-washed kind that comes in a bag, as the leaves are generally rinsed with chlorine and are handled so much that they spoil quickly. Dry the leaves well with a kitchen towel, being careful not to bruise them. Then place them in a Ziploc bag with a paper towel to absorb excess moisture. Store them in the crisper drawer at low humidity.

If you have adventurous eaters, you can add some hearts of palm, avocado, blanched green beans, olives, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts. These are salad days…fill each one with joy!

For a twist on Caesar, try my Radicchio Caesar.

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