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When Rach is in New York and wants to eat like she's in Italy, she goes to hotspot Via Carota, run by chefs Jody Williams and Rita Sodi. So, for our Italy episode, she HAD to ask the pair to share some of their simple signature dishes, which include this green salad, Grilled Mushrooms with Vinaigrette + Smoked Cheese and Spaghetti Cacio e Pepe.
"We are devoted to this salad. We eat it every day. We crave it, in fact, and it is at our dining table nightly. Spring. Summer. Autumn. Winter. The greens have been purposefully chosen for their different textures and flavors: some sweet and crunchy, others peppery, bitter, or soft. Take good care of your leaves. Wash and dry them gently so they stay crisp. Our objective from the beginning was to create the quintessential green salad. Now, when we look around the dining room, on just about every table, we see a tower of bright green leaves, drizzled with our vinaigrette. We're proud of this bowl of simplicity. It is okay to eat with your hands." —Jody and Rita
For the vinaigrette, place the shallots in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water. Drain them and transfer to a small bowl with the garlic, sugar, and salt. Strip the thyme leaves off the stems and finely chop the leaves (for about 1 teaspoon thyme); stir into the bowl. Stir in the vinegar, water, Dijon mustard, and whole grain mustard. Pour the olive oil into the bowl in a slow stream, whisking all the while until emulsified.
The vinaigrette can be refrigerated for up to 3 days.
For the salad, pull off any wilted or bruised outer leaves from the butter lettuce. Set aside the floppy, darker green leaves for another use; you will only use the pale inner head. Wash the leaves in two changes of water: First, fill a basin with lukewarm water, and soak the lettuces in it, swishing with your hands. Lift the leaves out and drain in a colander. Second, wash the leaves in cold water, again swishing them with your hands and lifting them out. Rinse the leaves well. Slice the frisee leaves into smaller pieces and separate the Little Gem leaves and remove any tough stems from the cress; wash them in the same way.
Spin all the leaves dry in a salad spinner, then spread them out on a large, lint-free kitchen towel. In all, you will have about 6 handfuls of mixed leaves. Gently press on them with another towel and roll them up completely.
Place all the leaves in the largest bowl you can find. Season them with a good pinch of salt and a few grindings of pepper. Drizzle in most of the vinaigrette, tossing with your hands to coat the leaves thoroughly.
Lay the leaves on a plate in gradual stages, so they can be piled high without falling. Tuck the endive spears around the sides and drizzle with a little bit more vinaigrette.
Excerpted from Via Carota by Jodi Williams and Rita Sodi. Copyright © 2022 by Jodi Williams and Rita Sodi. Used with permission by Knopf. All rights reserved.