June 26, 2009

Caesar Salad and Open-Faced Radish Sandwiches

We signed up for a CSA (community-supported agriculture) program this summer for the first time and it's been wonderful. It began the first week of June and goes through much of October. We are eating far more vegetables-- because we're determined not to let the weekly box contents go to waste-- and everything is so yummy because it is in season right now and grown just up the road in Fairlee. I'm also learning more about what's actually in season around here through this experience. So far we've had mostly salad greens-- several different heads of lettuce, bags of spinach, arugula, and other mixed greens. We've also received bunches of radishes in beautiful colors-- red, pink, purple, white-- plus one head of broccoli and some turnip greens. This means we've had entrĂ©e salads more nights than not for dinner this month. We've had some yummy ones: arugula tossed in e-v olive oil and salt with toasted pine nuts and shaved parmesan on top, and greens with brie, caramelized walnuts, and a simple oil-and-cider-vinegar dressing (notice a cheese theme?). For this simple Caesar, I love to add fresh, hard-boiled eggs on top if we have them. 

One CSA box item I had to think hard about was how to use radishes, as I have never bothered to buy them before. Upon searching for ideas, we found that radish and cucumber is a common combination. (We enjoyed radish-cucumber-lettuce-cream-cheese sandwiches a few times.) These crunchy, salted, buttery open-faced "sandwiches" on thin slices of baguette feel like the perfect accompaniment to round out the Caesar salad as a meal.

Caesar Salad and Open-Faced Cucumber-Radish Sandwiches
both adapted from Epicurious

1/2-inch cubes baguette or other good bread
olive oil

Dressing (made enough for two nights' dinner and we still have some left):
2 garlic cloves, chopped
6 flat anchovies, rinsed, patted dry, and chopped (I left out)
2 T lemon juice
2 T mayo
1/4 t salt
1/3 C olive oil
2 T water

Salad Components
1/3 C grated Parmesan + some for serving
1 head Romaine lettuce, trimmed and torn up
optional topping: sliced hard-boiled eggs

Open-Faced Sandwiches
thinly sliced baguette
thinly sliced cucumber and/or radish
sea salt

For croutons, preheat oven to 350. Toss bread cubes with oil and salt to taste and spread in rimmed baking pan. Bake until golden, 10 to 15 minutes.

For dressing, in a blender, blend garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, mayo, and salt until smooth. With motor running, add oil in slow stream and blend until emulsified. Add water and blend well.

For salad, I put out on the table for everyone to assemble their own: Romaine, dressing, croutons, Parmesan, sliced egg, and pepper. (If you'd prefer, and as the recipe suggests, toss Romaine with dressing, croutons, Parmesan, and pepper.) 

Assemble open-faced sandwiches: butter each baguette slice. Top with one or several slices of cucumber and/or radish, then sprinkle with sea salt. 

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