This lovely salad features tender Little Gem lettuce, a smaller, sweeter variety of romaine, adorned with tangy Greek feta, sliced green and black Kalamata olives in a fresh basil and roasted garlic vinaigrette. Inspired by chef Ben Heaton's excellent Baby Gem Salad from Estia, his most recent restaurant in Toronto's stylish Yorkville neighbourhood, this was our favourite dish on the menu.
Ben Heaton's Gem Salad we had at Estia
Baby Gem & Feta Salad with Roast Garlic Vinaigrette
1 1/2 lb Little Gem lettuce, about 8-9 heads
1 cup Greek feta, crumbled
1/2 cup green and black Kalamata olives, halved
1 cup oven-crisped pita
Maldon salt and fresh cracked black pepper, to taste
Roasted Garlic Dressing:
4 cloves garlic, unpeeled
5 tbsp fresh basil
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1/3 cup plus 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp Maldon salt
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place unpeeled garlic cloves in small baking dish and drizzle with 1/2 teaspoon oil. Roast garlic until soft, about 20 minutes. Let cool slightly then peel and mince. Transfer to small bowl. In a blender, whisk together garlic, fresh basil, vinegar, maple syrup and dijon mustard. Slowly whisk in remaining 1/3 cup oil and season to taste with salt and pepper, then set aside.
Toss the lettuce in a large bowl with enough dressing to coat. To serve, place the dressed lettuce on a large platter and garnish with crumbled feta, oven crisped pita and olives, and season with extra Maldon salt to taste, if desired.