- 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, and/or cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 21/2 teaspoons salt
- 11/4 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 10 ounces baby romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
- 3 cups rice flour
- 1 to 11/2 cups very cold seltzer water
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Essence, recipe follows
- 2 large Vidalia onions, or other sweet onions such as Oso Sweet, Walla Walla, or Maui, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rings
- 6 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a medium bowl, combine the herbs, shallots, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper and whisk to blend. Slowly add the olive oils in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until the vinaigrette thickens. Place the baby romaine in a large bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette, 1/2 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper. Set aside.
Combine the rice flour, seltzer water, remaining 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper in a medium bowl, and whisk to form a smooth paste. (Best results are obtained when the batter is very cold.) Combine the all-purpose flour and Essence in a shallow bowl. Toss 12 of the largest, outer onion rings in the seasoned flour, and dredge in the batter, shaking to remove any excess. (Save the remaining, smaller onion rings for another use.)
In a large deep pot or electric fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees F. Carefully add the onion rings to the hot oil, and cook, turning occasionally to prevent the pieces from sticking together, until golden on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Place 1 fried onion ring in the center of each salad plate and stuff with 1/2 cup of the dressed romaine. Repeat, for a total of 3 onion rings and about 1 1/2 cups of baby romaine per salad, with the greens spilling out of the top. Garnish each with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan and a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.
Emeril's ESSENCE Creole Seasoning (also referred to as Bayou Blast):
- 2 1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 tablespoons garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
Combine all ingredients thoroughly.
Yield: 2/3 cup
Recipe from New New Orleans Cooking, by Emeril Lagasse and Jessie Tirsch, published by William and Morrow, 1993.