This Little Gem salad with bread crumb croutons is an elegant starter or side made from Little Gem (or baby romaine lettuce), a creamy buttermilk dressing, buttery bread crumbs, and sliced radishes.
This isn’t a groundbreaking idea but it’s a great thing to have in your arsenal, a fresh version of the classic iceberg wedge. Little Gem lettuce drizzled with buttermilk dressing, buttery bread crumbs, and sliced radishes. Perfect.–Rosie Daykin
Little Gem Salad with Bread Crumb Croutons
- 2 tablespoons (1 oz) unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt plus a little more for seasoning
- 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk preferably full-fat
- 1/2 cup crème fraiche
- 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
- 1/4 cup finely chopped chives
- 1 tablespoon thyme leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 6 heads Little Gem* lettuce baby romaine, or romaine hearts, halved lengthwise
- 1/2 cup finely sliced radishes preferably French breakfast
- In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the panko bread crumbs and stir to coat. Continue to stir until the bread crumbs begin to turn golden brown, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. Empty pan onto a plate and lightly sprinkle with salt. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup buttermilk, crème fraîche, lemon zest, chives, thyme, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper. If desired, stir in additional buttermilk until the desired consistency is reached. (You can make the dressing in advance and stash it in the refrigerator for up to a day or so)
- On a large platter, arrange the Little Gem or romaine lettuce halves cut side up and slightly overlapping.
- Spoon the buttermilk dressing over the lettuce, sprinkle with the buttery bread crumbs, and top with sliced radishes. Sprinkle a little more salt and pepper on the radishes and serve immediately.
*What is Little Gem lettuce?Small, compact lettuce that looks like romaine (after you’ve removed all those outer layers), Little Gem is a salad lover’s dream come true. It’s tender yet has enough sturdiness to stand up to some time on the grill if you’re so inclined. Like romaine, it has crinkly leaves that love to hold on to dressing, allowing it to be filled with flavor. This also means that hearts of romaine make a perfect substitute.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
One of the best things about springtime menus is the colorful salads! This Little Gem salad was no exception. A fancy take on a classic wedge salad is individual heads of Little Gem lettuce halved lengthwise and paired on a plate with peppery radishes. The dressing has the bright taste of lemon zest and a combination of fresh herbs. Thyme and chives are a great combo, but I can see dill, tarragon, or basil doing well here, too. All of the parts of this salad worked together very nicely!
The real surprise of the salad that really elevates it to spectacular is the toasted panko bread crumbs that have soaked up the taste of melted butter (swoon). A tiny bit like adding croutons to a salad, this modern take really adds just the right amount of crunch and modernity to the salad. We adored this beauty of a salad!
I had leftover dressing so I am keeping it in a Mason jar in the fridge to use on other salads this week. Each element of the salad I would use again in a heartbeat; the slicing of the individual heads of lettuce makes for a lovely presentation and the dressing I will be using on other salads as well as the toasted bread crumbs idea.
This salad is simple and elegant. It’s a combination of flavors that most people will love. It’s visually very appealing and is as tasty as it looks with well-balanced flavors. I like that it included some ingredients that made the salad feel special but was still easy and quick to prepare. It’s refreshing that this recipe uses minimal ingredients but the combination is greater than its parts!
We enjoyed the thinly sliced radishes and bread crumb "croutons." The dressing is also a nice change from everyday dressings and complements the salad ingredients. Lemon, crème frâiche, and buttermilk provide tang and the herbs add subtle flavor. The consistency of the dressing is ideal as it drapes nicely on the salad leaves and provides the perfect amount of dressing for each bite.
We really enjoyed the bread crumb dust as it added a pleasant flavorful crunch. Again, something a little different that was easy but tasty and makes this salad something special. This salad would also make a delicious main salad with protein added on the side. I rarely find Little Gem lettuce in my area anymore so I used baby romaine.
I refrigerated the leftover portion and used it the next day. It was still excellent with good consistency and flavor.
Originally published May 04, 2019