On our recent trip to Chef Fest — Made In America, a celebrity chef-studded food and cooking event at Hawaii’s Four Seasons Resort Hualalei, we learned to make this salad, starring none other than rich, milky, creamy buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) at a kitchen demo with Nancy Silverton and Matt Molina of LA’s Osteria Mozza.
Sweet gem is a mild, tender baby lettuce like a mini-head of Bibb or butter. Massaging the dressing gently into the leaves before plating ensures every leaf gets a good dose, and make sure you allow the mozzarella to come to room temperature before serving.
For the lemon-yogurt vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup shallots, minced
- 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, divided
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
- 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
For the salad
- 1 cup Persian or English cucumbers, thinly sliced
- 4 small heads sweet gem lettuce
- 1 ounce buffalo mozzarella
- extra-virgin olive oil, to garnish
For the dressing:
- Combine the shallots, half the lemon juice, vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Set the bowl aside for 5-10 minutes to marinate the shallots.
- Add the olive oil in a slow, steady stream, whisking constantly to combine. Stir in the pepper. Taste for seasoning and add more salt or pepper, if desired.
- Transfer 1/2 cup of the dressing to a small bowl and save 1/2 cup in an airtight container in the fridge for another use.
- Add the Greek yogurt and other half of the lemon juice to the bowl with the dressing, whisk and set aside.
For the salad:
- Place the cucumbers in a bowl and add a pinch of salt and 1 ounce of the vinaigrette. Mix thoroughly, then divide and arrange on the bottom of four salad plates.
- Cut the lettuce into quarters with the root trimmed off and place in a bowl. Add a tablespoon of the vinaigrette and work it into the leaves using your hands. Plate the quarters on top of the cucumbers.
- Slice mozzarella in quarters and place in front of the lettuce on each place. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and serve.
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