Picking a favorite salad, for me, is like picking a favorite child. While I love so many of them, making one really special…really unique…is a tall order. Currently, I'm having a gastronomic love affair with one particular salad at an Atlanta restaurant called Bocado. Delicate young greens dressed in homemade buttermilk dressing then topped with goat cheese and dried cranberries. Having the opportunity to eat this salad makes me swoon – I ordered one for Helen to try when we dined there during her trip to Atlanta.
This constant craving crossed paths with my newly acquired copy of Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller. Spying his recipe for buttermilk dressing, I decided to merge the two for my own at-home recipe for this incredible salad. My batch of dressing had more herbs and more buttermilk than called for in the recipe, as well as more lemon and a pinch of heat – feel free to tweak it to your taste. Adding more buttermilk allows for a thinner dressing as to not weigh down the beautiful salad mix. I've replaced the dried cranberries with tarter dried cherries. Topped with crumbles of creamy goat cheese and some dill fronds (which I absolutely hate but somehow love in this salad), it's the most perfectly balanced, gentle yet flavorful salad I've had in a long time.
Young Field Green & Herb Salad with Dried Cherries, Goat Cheese and Buttermilk Dressing – makes two large salads
– For the dressing: Combine buttermilk, sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, chopped parsley, chopped mint, chopped chives, chili flakes together in a large mixing bowl or blender. Whisk by hand or pulse together until well mixed. Give it a taste at this point and add salt & pepper as you see fit. This makes far more dressing than you'll need for your salad so store the remainder in a glass storage jar with a tightly fitting lid to enjoy later.
– To assemble the salad: Wash and allow greens to dry thoroughly. Toss lettuces in about 4 tablespoons of your dressing – add more if so choose. Crumble your goat cheese into the lettuce mixture and gently toss. Add cherries and dill fronds and give it one more gentle – but thorough – mix. Serve immediately.