This is our family “go-to” salad. My parents have been serving this salad at all major holidays for as long as I can remember. As a child, one of my fondest kitchen memories was helping mom destalk the romaine. I felt like it was such an essential part of the success of the salad. I’ve served this at many dinner parties and I haven’t found a guest who hasn’t liked it. The bold garlic flavor combined with the gentle sweetness of the pine nuts makes this salad a year-round crowd pleaser.

The original recipe was sent to my parents in a mailer from The Wine and Cheese Place in St. Louis at least 20 years ago. Les, the owner of the store, credited Gary and Judy Studer with the contribution of this recipe to the mailer.

Ingredients:

5-6 garlic cloves, peeled
½ teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons white wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 large heads of romaine, washed, destalked, and torn into bite size pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
¼ cup + freshly grated Parmesan
¼ cup + pine nuts

Preparation:

First, toast the pine nuts. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet, and place under the boiler until golden brown. Watch very closely, once they begin to brown they can quickly turn to charcoal and you risk burning the kitchen down. Another method is to place the pine nuts in a small sauté pan on low heat and cook on the stovetop until golden brown. Set aside.

In small saucepan of boiling water, boil the garlic for 10 minutes. Drain well. In a large wooden salad bowl, mash the garlic to a paste with the salt.

Whisk in the mustard and the vinegar. Add the oil in a stream, whisking until emulsified.

Add the romaine. Toss the salad well to combine and season to taste with pepper. Add the Parmesan and pine nuts, and toss again.

Be sure to taste the salad before you serve. If it needs more zing, add a bit more vinegar. If it’s too tart for your liking, add more olive oil.

Serve the salad with extra pine nuts and Parmesan available.