Monday Night Martha: Julia Child's Bibb Salad

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We're serving up a unique Monday Night Martha today. This recipe comes from Julia Child, by way of our friend Sean Collins. In the late 1980s, Collins was working as a producer on NPR's Morning Edition when he was assigned to help with a project at WGBH in Boston.

"It basically involved sitting in Julia Child's kitchen at her home in Cambridge with her," Collins says. "I got to sit and chat with her. For two days."

On the first day, Child made Collins a lunch of broiled sole and a green salad with a lemon-garlic dressing. Collins says he'd never seen anyone dress a salad this way before, or since, and the result was "simple, bright and kind of brilliant." He still uses the technique, and offered to share it with us.

Ingredients

1 or 2 cloves of garlic
Kosher (or other coarse) Salt
1 Lemon
Red Wine Vinegar
Pepper
Bibb / Boston Lettuce
1-2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard

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Here is Collins' version of JC's Bibb lettuce salad:

Wash and dry the Bibb lettuce. Tear into bite-sized pieces and dress immediately with an excellent quality olive oil. Toss and set oiled greens aside.

On a cutting board, smash one or two cloves of garlic. Add a healthy pinch of coarse kosher salt. Then, using the flat of a chef's knife, draw the side of the knife across the garlic and salt to puree. It only takes a couple of swipes. The salt acts both as an abrasive  to assist in the pureeing, but also as a vehicle to absorb the oil expressed from the garlic.

Scoop up the pureed garlic / salt and put it into a small (teacup-sized) bowl.

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Cut a few strips of zest from the lemon, julienne and then tiny dice. Add to the teacup with the garlic and salt. Squeeze half the lemon juice into the teacup. Add a little red wine vinegar and a teaspoon of Dijon. Mix this acid mixture in the teacup.

When you serve, you dribble the dressing on the oiled greens, and finish with a grind of black pepper.

This salad is every bit as yummy as Collins describes it: "Some bites are garlicky, some are lemony, all have the smooth mouthfeel of the fragrant olive oil"

Thanks Sean and, most vitally, thanks to Julia Child. Bon appetit!

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