Blue Duck Tavern in Washington, D.C., is known for its "product-driven menu [with] an all-American sensibility," according to our anonymous inspectors. With Adam Howard at the helm as executive chef, his Southern roots influence a number of thew dishes coming out of MICHELIN-starred kitchen.
However, this isn't exactly the same food he learned in his hometown of Pell City, Alabama, from his grandmother. Howard now incorporates an array of global ingredients to create meat-free versions of some of the dishes he grew up with to accommodate a wider range of diners and their diets. With his gem lettuce salad featuring pickled green strawberries, sourdough croutons, radish, walnuts and Parmesan, Howard uses dulse seaweed in lieu of bacon to add a savory element to the salad, which he toasts in the oven until crisp and crumbles over top of the salad.
Here's how to make it at home.
Gem Lettuce Salad with Pickled Green Strawberries, Sourdough Croutons, and DulseCourtesy of executive chef Adam Howard, Blue Duck Tavern, Washington, D.C.
Serves 6 to 8
6 ounces gem lettuce
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 ounce pickled green strawberries plus 3 tablespoons pickling liquid (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 watermelon radish, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon toasted and crushed walnuts
2 tablespoon microplaned Parmesan
2 ounces whole grain croutons (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon toasted and crumbled dulse, preferably from Maine
1. Clean the gem lettuce and split vertically, crush gently and line up side by side in the middle of the plate; season with salt and pepper.
2. Mix the pickling liquid and the olive oil together and spoon over the lettuce and a little around the outside.
3. Stand up the sliced radish randomly along the lettuces. Sprinkle the walnuts over the top along with the Parmesan. Lay the pickled green strawberries, croutons and dulse around and over the salad.
Pickled Green StrawberriesYields approximately 3 quarts
2 quarts green strawberries, stems removed
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
1 quart white verjus
2 cups white balsamic vinegar
1 cup water
1 tablespoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon coriander seeds
4 sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1. Split the strawberries vertically and place in a glass jar with the bay leaf and mustard seeds.
2. Simmer together the remaining ingredients in a non-reactive pan for 20 minutes. Bring the pickling brine to a boil and strain over the strawberries. Seal and let pickle a few days before using.
Sourdough CroutonsYields approximately 1 quart
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 tablespoons vermouth
1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
6 ounces rustic sourdough bread, crust removed and torn to 1-inch pieces
1. Heat the oven to 300˚F.
2. Add the butter, mustard, vermouth, salt and pepper to a pan over medium heat and cook, whisking occasionally, until the butter has melted. It will the viscosity of a thick vinaigrette.
3. Toss the torn bread with the vinaigrette in a large bowl spread out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven until browned but still slightly chewy in the center.
Photo courtesy of Blue Duck Tavern.