Food & Entertaining - Garden to Table

Easy-to-make lettuce dishes

Kathleen Sloan-McIntosh

Lettuce is the star in these easy meal ideas

Young mesclun crostini with pecorino

Makes 6 to 8 servings

The word mesclun means "to mix" and, indeed, any mixture of young lettuce leaves can be used in this delicious recipe that combines the greens with grape tomatoes and fresh herbs. Pecorino is an Italian aged sheep's milk cheese, but any hard cheese can be used. Tip: Grate the lemon to get the zest before squeezing for the juice.

6     tbsp. (90 mL) fresh lemon juice
4     tsp. (20 mL) honey
¾    cup (175 mL) extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
6    (½-inch/1-cm) slices focaccia or country-style rustic bread, halved diagonally
1    large clove garlic, halved
8    cups (2 L) young lettuce leaves
1    tbsp. (15 mL) finely grated lemon zest, divided
1    cup (250 mL) torn assorted fresh herbs (such as basil, flat-leaf parsley, tarragon, chives, mint)
1    cup (250 mL) grape tomatoes, halved
6    oz. (150 g) pecorino romano cheese, shaved

In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, honey and ½ cup (125 mL) of the olive oil (reserve remaining oil). Add salt and pepper.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Brush both sides of focaccia with remaining oil; grill for about 30 seconds on each side or until golden brown.

Rub garlic clove half on one side of each slice of toast.

In a large mixing bowl, toss lettuce with half the lemon zest, herbs, tomatoes and enough (not all of) dressing to coat leaves. Season with a little more salt and pepper if desired. 

Place grilled bread on a large serv­­ing platter and drizzle with remaining dressing. Alternately layer cheese and salad leaves on each toast, ending with cheese. Sprinkle remaining lemon zest overtop and serve immediately. 

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