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BIG Salad Inspo

The time for making heavy, comforting, yeast-based pandemic food has come and gone. It's spring in Canada, lettuce rejoice.

This salad inspiration is curtesy of a Food 52 video that challenges us to make big salads! Not those measly side salads, but large, beautiful, meal-sized salads. Challenge accepted. Especially when there is mortadella involved.

How could this not this be good? It's basically a deconstructed deli sandwich with way less bread. It comes together in about the same time as a sandwich, only about 5 minutes of "cooking" in a pan, then a toss, an assemble and you're done.

The original recipe for this salad stuck to an Italian theme, but I didn't have tomatoes, cucumber, salami, or red wine vinegar so I just used whatever else I had, swapping out for radish, avocado and an apple balsamic vinegar. That's the beauty of a salad! Just mix and match; something salty, something crispy, something cheesy, simply pull together a variety of textures and flavours, arrange them nicely on a plate and enjoy!

Mortadella salad

2 slices (2 ounces) mortadella, divided

2 slices (1 1/2 ounces) provolone, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 thick bread slice, cut or torn into bite-size pieces

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 medium head Little Gem lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

1 small Persian cucumber, sliced and cut into half-moons

1/4 cup sliced pepperoncini

8 Castelvetrano olives, smashed, pitted, and torn

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

1 ounce cured fennel salami, thinly sliced (optional)

Italian dressing

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, plus more to taste

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

Line a plate with paper towels. Thinly slice 1 slice of mortadella into 1/8-inch-thick strips. Heat a small nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mortadella strips and cook, stirring and separating the strips with a rubber spatula, until the fat is rendered and the mortadella is brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the paper-towel-lined plate.

In the same pan still over medium-high heat, add 1 slice of provolone cheese and cook until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute. Flip and cook until the second side is golden brown and crisp, another minute. Place on the paper-towel-lined plate to drain, then break into bite-size pieces.

Add the olive oil and bread to the pan (no need to clean it first) and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the salt and garlic powder, then toss. Cook, stirring and tossing constantly, until the cubes are golden brown and toasted, about 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, add all of the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined. Transfer 1 tablespoon of this dressing to a small bowl or glass.

Add the lettuce and cucumber to the medium bowl and toss. Taste and add more salt, vinegar, or sugar as needed.

Cut the remaining mortadella and provolone into 1/2-inch-thick strips and roll up each strip. Place the dressed lettuce mixture onto a large plate. Arrange the crisp and cold mortadella, crisp and cold provolone, pepperoncini, olives, tomatoes, salami if using, and croutons on top. Drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve right away.


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