Friday, July 6, 2012

One Great . . . gorgonzola salad

Once upon a time, when I was a very young lass in West Palm Beach, Fla., there was a steak restaurant called Manero's. Fancy place, expensive steaks. And, most of the time, completely out of my financial league.

But in those long-ago days, there were things called "dates," when a young girl might be taken out for a nice meal. And so, very occasionally, I got to go to Manero's.

I don't recall a thing about the steaks. I can't remember all that much about most of those dates. None made an impression until I met the one I married in another town, many miles and a few years away.

But Manero's Gorgonzola salad? Now, that made an impression. It was really the reason people went to the restaurant: The cheesiest, most garlicky salad, tossed tableside in wooden bowls. A few years ago, paddling around on food web sites, I found a recipe that the Miami Herald apparently had begged from the original owners. The trick turned out to be garlic oil, rubbed into the wooden bowl before mixing the salad.

Garlic and Gorgonzola Salad
If you can't find gorgonzola, you could use blue cheese. The original directions call for freezing the cheese for 24 hours, so it's very firm and shreds well.

1 clove garlic, peeled
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil, divided
1 head of iceberg lettuce (although romaine or something better would do)
1 green pepper, cored and diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 ripe tomatoes, cored and diced
Salt and pepper
4 ounces Gorgonzola or blue cheese
1/4 cup cider vinegar

Combine the garlic clove and 1/2 cup oil in a blender and puree. Rub a wooden salad bowl well with the garlic oil. Refrigerate any leftover oil.

Break lettuce into bite-size pieces and place in the treated salad bowl. Add the green peper, celery and tomato. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Grate cheese over the top of the salad. Whisk together the vinegarand remaining cup of oil. Pour over the salad and toss well.
Serve immediately.

Yield: 4 servings.

7 comments:

FBogus said...

Manero's in Greenwich, CT was our special occasion spot when I was young. My father still talks about Nick Manero flirting with my mother because she was a striking blonde. Yes, the Gorgonzola salad was all that and more, but how could you forget the garlic bread? Or the fried onions? With all that, any other food was purely an afterthought.
Thanks for the memory (and recipe).

Kathleen Purvis said...

I'll be darned -- I didn't know it was a chain. Or was it one of the seasonal places with a location in Florida and one in the north? That used to be common in Florida, when people left in the summer. (Bet they made garlic bread with that leftover garlic oil.)

Anonymous said...

How was Manero's pulled pork bbq? Did they serve it up with Eastern Carolina vinegar based sauce or Kansas City Style tomato based sauce?

Was their fried chicken more delectable than Price's Chicken Coop?

Oh, wait....

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:53 - why do you read the blog or bother to post? Speaking of (l)asses...

Anonymous said...

Great memories of the Gogonzola, food, and intrigue at that Manero's in Greenwich, CT back in the early 1980s. I believe it was also a bit of a mob hangout, as my friends would always point out "who's who" when we dined there.The Florida owner no doubt has some stories to tell!

heather said...

I grew up a few blocks from the WPB Manero's in the 80s and went there for many special occasions. My mom knew the family and somehow managed to track them down to J Arthur's in Maggie Valley these days. I haven't been but I think they still make the Gorgonzola salad.

Anonymous said...

Manero's gorgonzola salad was AMAZING. And they would bring you as many as you want! We used to bring the steak home as leftovers and eat 2 or sometimes 3 salads for dinner! No one has ever recreated that amazing salad since those days. The salad I remember was only lettuce and tomato with that amazing cheesy dressing. No peppers or celery.