Craig’s Summer Salad

by Chef Bruce Moffett,
Moffett Restaurant Group

My grandmother, whom we called Craig, was a precise woman. Meticulous. When it was time to make a salad, she had very specific instructions. She would send me out to her garden with a pair of scissors and tell me to get two tomatoes, twelve green beans and three heads of lettuce. Her method for making the dressing was just as specific. If it wasn’t made in a wooden bowl, it wasn’t right. Green beans were serious business, too. You wanted crunch, but not a fibrous chew. And we were taught to always add the lettuce at the very last minute, right before serving. I’ve never deviated from this method and it has never let me down.  

Serves 2–4 

2 medium tomatoes

12–16 French green beans, cut in half

2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more for seasoning

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

4 basil leaves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon chopped tarragon

3 small heads of lettuce

Black pepper, to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. While the water is boiling, prepare an ice bath. Using a paring knife, make an “x” on the bottom of each tomato. Place into boiling water for 20 seconds, then remove with a slotted spoon and plunge into ice bath. Keep water boiling in pot. When cool, gently remove the skins and dice. Reserve ice bath.

Generously salt the boiling water and add the green beans. After several minutes, check for doneness. You should be able to bite through the green bean with the slightest resistance, but it should still have structure, like al dente pasta. Plunge green beans into ice bath. When chilled, remove from water and pat dry. 

In a large, wooden salad bowl, crush a clove of garlic into 2 teaspoons of salt with the back of a wooden spoon. Using a circular motion and applying some pressure, continue to crush the garlic with the spoon until it resembles a paste. Remove any large chunks of garlic. Add vinegar, then slowly add the oil using a wire whisk to emulsify. Add herbs, green beans and tomatoes and mix together. Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour. 

Just before serving, add the lettuce and toss well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.