If you’re ever in St. Louis you can head to Union Loafers for their Little Gem Salad. If you’re not in the city you can still enjoy our copycat version right at home.
This very special salad has a few little additions that add up to tons of flavor and freshness that tops most other salads if you ask me. I wish I could say it’s one “secret” ingredient that makes it, but there are several! However, even with some non-standard salad fixins this one is easy to make.
And, the flavor! It’s got lots of herbs mixed into the greens and a homemade buttermilk and shallot dressing. If you’ve been looking for more oomph from your salads then this is the one to try.
Let’s talk about the dressing. This creamy concoction is flavored with shallots and garlic for just a little hit of flavor. It’s extra creamy thanks to both buttermilk and sour cream in the mix. In my experience this makes a little bit more than what you’ll need to dress the greens. But, fear not: this dressing also makes a good dipping sauce, too. And, it keeps well in the fridge so having some leftover was no problem for me.
Another thing about this recipe is the pickled shallots. These aren’t an item you find very often, but they really elevate this salad. If you don’t love the taste of onions then you might want to add this topping sparingly.
Combine the ingredients for the pickled shallots before you begin processing the other ingredients and by the time you’re done they will be lightly pickled. I’ve also used these pickled shallots on other dishes since they add just the right amount of acidity to a variety of foods.
Mixed in with the greens is some chopped fresh parsley and dill. The recipe also calls for fresh chervil but if you can’t find that then just double up on the parsley.
The final special touch for this salad is some toasted panko breadcrumbs that add crunch. Sprinkle these on at the last minute so they keep more of their texture.
This copycat salad is one of the best salads around. It’s perfect alongside a sandwich and it goes really well with a steak, too!
Little Gem Salad
30m prep time
3m cook time
For the salad:
- 1 shallot, chopped finely
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
- 20 oz or 5 heads butter lettuce, torn into small pieces
- 2 hearts of romaine, chopped
- 7 tablespoons each chopped fresh chervil, fresh chives, fresh dill, and fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
For the dressing:
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 shallot, roughly chopped
- 1 clove garlic, pressed
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- Combine vinegar, and sugar in small bowl. Heat for 30 seconds in microwave and stir until sugar is dissolved. Stir in shallot and set aside while you prepare other ingredients.
- In dry skillet toast breadcrumbs for 2 minutes. Remove to small bowl.
- Combine remaining salad ingredients in large bowl and toss to combine.
- Whisk together dressing ingredients in medium bowl. Top salad with shallot, breadcrumbs, and add dressing to taste. Toss to combine and serve immediately.
Recipe adapted from Sauce Magazine.