Rich’n’Charlie’s Salad

Rich'n'Charlie's Salad

So, the holidays are over.

Are your pants a little…tight?

Mine are. It sucks.

Why can’t eating bread and cookies and rice cake soup be slimming? Alas. I’m going into damage-control mode post-holidays, which means no carbs, no sugar, lots of protein and lots of veggies. Fortunately, I have a salad recipe that is awesomely delicious and perfectly slimming. Sometimes good things do happen.

In my family, there is a particular dish that traditionally makes its appearance at holiday dinners. In fact, it’s such a huge favorite that it often makes its way into many ordinary meals throughout the year as well.

Rich’n’Charlie’s salad may be best known as a local St. Louis, Missouri favorite, first created in the Italian restaurant of the same name. So fond my family is of this salad that we long ago created our homemade version and have been eating it for decades since.

The ingredients of this salad are not your average salad fixings and this salad is not for the faint of heart. You do not want to eat this salad on a date. (Unless you want to end your date early, which may be what you totally want to do.)

With all the garlic, onion, and vinegar involved in this salad, you will be your very own walking, talking, breathing vampire repellant. But you will be a satisfied vampire repellant, because this salad is garlicky, vinegary, the peppers are crisp and lightly sweet, the hearts of palm provide a touch of tang, and the artichokes just melt on your tongue.

Hearts of Palm

I have many fond memories of watching my mother make this salad for Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter (or Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays…). She often squats down like this on the floor over a large bowl, unafraid of getting her hands right into whatever she is making. She can maintain this position for what seems like hours. It never fails to remind me of old paintings I’ve seen of rural Korean life with the women squatting over their bowls to wash rice.

Rich'n'Charlie's Salad

She always makes this salad on a ridiculously huge scale, and it is always consumed within a week. It is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. It is just that good.

Rich’n’Charlie’s Salad

2 heads of Romaine lettuce (or 1 head of Romaine and 1 head of iceberg), washed and cut into small strips

1 red bell pepper, sliced (or, more traditionally, you can use pimentos)

1 medium red onion, sliced

1/2 c red wine vinegar

1/2 c olive oil

1/4 c vegetable oil

3-4 cloves minced garlic

crumbled parmesan cheese (we have always used the canned stuff, but feel free to use freshly grated for a, I’m sure, more gourmet experience)

2 cups sliced artichoke hearts

2 cups of sliced hearts of palm

In a large bowl mix your lettuce, artichokes, hearts of palm, onion, and pepper. Set aside.

In a blender or food processor, puree garlic and red wine vinegar into a foamy, light pink mixture. Add olive oil and vegetable oil and pulse to thoroughly mix dressing. Your dressing will be a golden color at this point.

Pour dressing over salad fixings. With your hands, begin to fold the dressing into the salad, making sure to evenly coat all ingredients. Once the dressing is thoroughly worked into the salad, work in parmesan cheese by the handful or to taste. When finished, add a thin layer of parmesan cheese to the top of the salad, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours to let the dressing wilt the lettuce. Trust me, it’s so much better that way.

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