I think of salads in two distinct camps: 1) the classic tossed salad, where everything is added to a deep bowl and moved around to evenly distribute, and 2) flat salads built in layers on a shallow platter. The latter is best when you have delicate greens (like butter lettuce) that won’t take well to tossing. Building in layers also means that the construction of the servings will be roughly the same if you are the first person to be served or the last—no more lettuce-only bites for the last in line.
1 to 2 heads (about 1 lb [455 g]) butter or other wide-leaf lettuce, core removed and leaves left whole
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup [160 g] grapes, any variety, halved and seeds removed
1 cup [120 g] walnuts, toasted
1 head fennel (about 4 oz [115 g]), thinly shaved and stored in acidulated water
1 cup [240 ml] buttermilk
On a large serving platter or individual plates, lay out a single layer of lettuce leaves. Season with salt and black pepper. Scatter a handful of the grapes and walnuts evenly over the lettuce leaves. Add a few pieces of shaved fennel, patted dry if stored in water.
Drizzle a bit of the buttermilk all over.
Repeat until all of the ingredients are gone and serve.
Reprinted from Pulp: A Practical Guide to Cooking with Fruit by Abra Berens, with permission by Chronicle Books, 2023. Photographs © EE Berger.
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