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Big Italian Salad

written by Marsha Seidelman, M.D.

From www. onceuponachef.com       a recipe blog by Jennifer Segal

This dressing is easy as can be and just keeps getting better and better every day. What a great way to use loads of basil, if you're lucky enough to still be harvesting some after all the rain we had. My herbs didn't survive the storms, but luckily Whole Foods' did. I was not fortunate enough to find ricotta salata, so let me know if you do!  I was amazed to see 2 full cups of herbs be processed down to so little in moments!  But it sure packed plenty of flavor punch!  Try it - you'll like it!!

Servings: 6 for the salad; the dressing lasted me all week.

INGREDIENTS

FOR THE VINAIGRETTE:
1 cup loosely packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup red wine vinegar, best quality such as Pompeian Gourmet
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, best quality such as Lucini or Colavita
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons honey

FOR THE SALAD:
1 large head romaine lettuce (or 3 hearts), washed, dried and cut into large, bite-sized pieces
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup seeded and chopped hothouse cucumbers
1 to 2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
Handful grape tomatoes, halved
Handful pitted olives
Ricotta Salata (see note) or Feta, crumbled to taste

INSTRUCTIONS:

1) Make the dressing: Combine all dressing ingredients in a food processor and blitz to blend.

2) Place all of the salad ingredients except for the cheese in a large bowl.

3) Right before serving, add about half of the dressing and toss well. Add more dressing little by little as necessary; be sure to dress greens very generously, otherwise salad will be bland.

4) Toss in the cheese, then taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, if necessary.

Note: Ricotta salata is an Italian sheep's milk cheese that has a salty, slightly tangy flavor, almost like a dry Italian feta. It is not the same as the wet ricotta in the tub. You can find it at Whole Foods, gourmet grocers or specialty cheese shops.

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