Friday, July 27, 2012

Whole Foods Friday: The Wedge ... and pasta, too

If you came here looking for a post about an Olympic skater's haircut, you might be in the wrong place. This isn't about the Olympics, ice skating, sports, or a perky haircut.

Nope, this is about salad. The Wedge Salad.

The first wedge salad I ever saw was when I was in grade school and visited a friend down the block and she was eating this fascinating salad that didn't have the lettuce cut into small pieces. It was a whole WEDGE of iceberg lettuce.

It seemed so ... alien.

I have no idea what dressing was on that salad, or if it came with anything except lettuce and salad dressing, but it impressed me. It must have, if I still remember it after all these years.

Since then, the wedge salad disappeared from the culinary front page. Iceberg lettuce is no longer king. But recently I've seen the wedge reappearing on restaurant menus. I decided to take the wedge and twist it a bit. It's more of a half than a wedge, though. But that's okay.

The Wedge, Revamped

For the dressing:
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons stone ground or Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
Pinch of salt
Grind of white pepper
For the salad:
1 romaine heart
1 tomato
Blue cheese, crumbled

Combine the mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, rice vinegar, blue cheese, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, Stir to combine, mashing the blue cheese as you go. It's fine if there are some small bumps, but you want to mash the bigger pieces. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if desired.

Remove any tough or damaged leaves from the romaine. Trim the bottom and cut the romaine in half lengthwise. Remove the core. Place the halves on plates.

Core the tomato and cut it into wedges. Arrange it on the plate with the romaine. Drizzle the romaine with the dressing (you can reserve some to serve on the side, if you like) and sprinkle with as much extra crumbled blue cheese as you like.

Serve.

And now for some pasta

I've made linguini with clam sauce from canned clams and clam juice, but when I saw fresh chopped clams at Whole Foods I had to buy them.

This is not a complicated dish. It takes less time to make the "sauce" than it does to cook the noodles, so you can whip this up in no time, add a salad, and have dinner on the table in so fast, everyone will think you're a magician. 

For the wine, I used an un-oaked chardonnay, which is what the ever-so-helpful folks at the Whole Foods liquor store suggested. Some went into the clam sauce, and most of the rest of it was served at dinner. I mean, a cook's got to sample the ingredients, right?

Linguini and Clams

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 tablespoon flour
1/2 pound fresh chopped clams
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup white wine 
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Juice of 1 small lemon
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 pound linguini, cooked to al dente

Heat a the oil and butter in a pan until the butter melts.

Add the onion and cook on medium heat until the onions soften.

Add the garlic and continue cooking until the garlic is fragrant. Don't let it brown. Add the flour and cook until the flour browns very slightly. We're talking a pale creamy color, not khaki.

Add the clams, pepper flakes, and white wine and cook for just a few moments. add the salt, stir to combine, and add the lemon juice and pepper, and stir to combine again.

Add the linguine to the clam mixture and stir. Add some of the pasta cooking water, if necessary to moisten the mixture. You don't want this swimming in a sauce, but there should be moisture clinging to the pasta.

If you added too much liquid, let it cook out a bit. Taste for seasoning and add more salt, if needed.

Serve hot. Garnish with lemon wedges, if desired.

For more information about Whole Foods Friday, see the tab at the top.
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