Saturday, March 28, 2015

Hearts of Health Salad with White Truffle Oil Roasted Red Pepper Lemon Vinaigrette

     A modern Version Of The Classic Hearts Of Heath Salad!
     Today's salad recipe dates back more than 50 years.  In the 1960's and 1970's, casual hotel café restaurants and American diner style restaurants offered two well known menu items that had a healthy theme.  One was the "Diet Platter" and the other was "Hearts of Health."

     A diner style Hearts of Health was always made with a wedge of iceberg lettuce heart, canned hearts of palm and canned artichoke hearts.  This salad was always garnished with canned pimiento strips.  Oil and vinegar or lemon wedges were always served on the side.
     Hearts of Health appealed to women that were health and calorie conscious.  This simple salad appealed to ladies of all ages.  The last time that I actually sold a Hearts of Health was at a French café in the late 1980's.
     The French café was located at a small city in Florida that had a very high percentage of affluent senior citizens in the community.  A marquis department store in the area marketed fashionable clothing for women over 45 years old.  The French Café hosted a local department store's fashion shows twice per week during lunch hours.  The fashion models were not exactly young 21 year old girls from Paris or something.  They were older models that were at least 50 years old and the average age of the cafés female clientele was about 73.
     Yes, fashion show day at that French café was wrinkle city, but the elderly ladies did have class.  The wealthy elderly women really liked classic restaurant food items that were designed for ladies.  The first time that I ran the good old Hearts of Health as a special du jour at the café was during a fashion show.
     The elderly ladies all remembered this diner style classic and they knew that fashion models always ordered this salad at restaurants back in its heyday.  Many of the elderly ladies exclaimed that they had not seen this salad on a menu for many years and it used to be their favorite.
     I actually sold well over 50 orders of Hearts of Health that afternoon.  The French chef could not believe that such a simple salad could sell so well, but obviously he had never worked as a short order cook in an American style diner, so he did not know what the Hearts of Health was all about.
     A few weeks later, the French chef actually put the Hearts of Health on the regular menu because it was such a good money maker.  It just goes to show that when a classic food item is no longer en vogue with the younger crowd, it can still be marketed successfully in a community comprised of folks that are retirement age.

     Today's recipe is a modern version of a Classic Hearts of Health.  The original was made with a wedge of iceberg lettuce heart, but iceberg lettuce has been replace by mixd baby lettuce greens in restaurants during the last 30 years.  Since a pile of greens was used, this Hearts of Health version has to be called a Hearts of Health Salad.
     The recipe is modified with the addition of white truffle oil.  A lemony flavored truffle oil and roasted red pepper vinaigrette turns today's Hearts of Health Salad into an appealing gourmet item!

     *This entire recipe yields 1 individual portion salad!

     White Truffle Oil Roasted Red Pepper Lemon Vinaigrette:
     This dressing should not be made like an emulsified vinaigrette!  A stirred loose vinaigrette is best for a Hearts of Health Salad.
     Step 1:  Place 1/4 teaspoon minced garlic in a small mixing bowl.
     Add 1 tablespoon of finely minced roasted red bell pepper.
     Add 4 teaspoons of lemon juice.
     Add 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar.
     Add sea salt and black pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of finely chopped Italian Parsley.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of strong white truffle oil.  (Add 1 tablespoon if the white truffle oil is a weak tasting.  Add less vegetable oil in the next step to compensate.)
     Add 2 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.
     Step 2:  Stir the ingredients together.
     Set the dressing aside for 10 minutes, so the flavors meld.
     Stir the dressing before serving.
     Hearts of Health Salad with White Truffle Oil Roasted Red Pepper Lemon Vinaigrette:
     For a classic version, use a whole wedge of iceberg lettuce instead of mixed baby greens.
     Canned artichoke hearts and canned hearts of palm are actually the classic choice for any Hearts of Health recipe. 
     Step 1:  Mound 2 1/2 cups of mixed lettuce on the center of a plate.
     Step 2:  Place 6 artichoke heart halves on the sides of the lettuce mound.
     Place 6 thin plum tomato wedges between the artichoke hearts.
     Surround the lettuce mound with circle of bias sliced hearts of palm.
     Step 3:  Place a couple of thin sliced bermuda onion rings on top of the salad.
     Garnish the onion rings with an Italian Parsley sprig.
     Step 4:  Spoon just enough of the White Truffle Oil Roasted Red Pepper Lemon Vinaigrette over the salad to add flavor and color.  

     A Hearts of Health Salad is perfect for a spring season lunch!

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