A plate of nostalgia served with a pecorino-anchovy dressing.
Certain foods, like this romaine salad with pecorino-anchovy dressing, trigger memories of the meals my mother prepared. As a kid, I remember that no dinner would be complete without a large salad bowl of crisp greens tossed in olive oil, lots of lemon, and maybe some grated pecorino. It was hardly a salad to wow the masses, but it went with just about everything, especially pizza. Or, even ON pizza. Its lemony bite was the perfect palette cleanser to cut through all that bread and cheese.
Looking back, I like to think of this salad with pecorino-anchovy dressing as that pizza-night staple all grown up. It’s nearly an egg-less Ceasar salad, but the addition of sumac breadcrumbs turns it on its head and into something completely new.
You can dial down the anchovies to your liking, but I highly suggest going all in. The anchovies almost dissolve into the lemony salad dressing adding a punch of salty umami to every bite. And those breadcrumbs? Well, they take the whole thing home. Bright, crunchy, and packed with big flavors, this is my new favorite pizza-night salad.
Sumac breadcrumbs — the seasoning you didn’t know you needed.
Sumac is a bright red tangy spice made from pulverizing the berries of the sumac plant. It’s common in Middle Eastern food and adds a pop of color and a sour flavor, similar to lemon juice. It also goes great on pretty much anything — meat, vegetables, dips, salads, and even breadcrumbs.
Sumac spiked breadcrumbs are one of my back pocket tricks to add a little something special to salads, and making them couldn’t be easier. I prefer fresh breadcrumbs — that is bread pulsed in a food processor to form fluffy crumbs — but panko works just fine. Crisp in a skillet with olive oil and garlic and then toss in tart sumac. Use as a seasoning over salads or even on pasta!
Romaine Salad with Pecorino-Anchovy Dressing and Sumac Breadcrumbs
- 4 slices ½-inch thick day-old bread, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 3 Tbsp 45 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 1 Tbsp sumac
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 4 to 6 fillets anchovy , finely chopped
- 1 clove garlic , minced
- 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
- ¼ cup 60 ml fresh lemon juice
- ½ to ¾ cup 120 ml extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup 50 g pecorino cheese, finely grated
- 1 large handful sumac breadcrumbs
- 2 hearts romaine , ends trimmed, leaves separated, washed and dried
- chunk of pecorino cheese for grating
- kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
To make the breadcrumbs
- In a food processor, add the cubed bread and pulse until coarse crumbs form. In a medium skillet, heat 3 Tbsp [45 ml] extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add the breadcrumbs and 1 minced garlic clove and cook, occasionally turning until brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. In a large bowl, toss the warm breadcrumbs with 1 tsp fresh thyme and 1 Tbsp sumac. Season with salt and pepper. Store the breadcrumbs in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
To make the dressing
- In the bowl of a mini food processor or blender, combine the 4 to 6 anchovy fillets, 1 Tbsp dijon mustard, 1 garlic clove, ¼ cup [60 ml] lemon juice, and ½ cup [50 g] finely grated pecorino cheese. Add ½ cup [120 ml] extra-virgin olive oil or ¾ cup [180 ml] if you prefer a less acidic dressing. Pulse to emulsify the ingredients, about 10 seconds. Store any leftover dressing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- Add the romaine to a large mixing bowl and spoon some dressing on top. Toss to coat and then taste adding more dressing if desired. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a large platter and scatter a large handful of breadcrumbs on top. Finely grate a generous amount of pecorino on top and serve immediately.
- Up to 2 weeks ahead: Make the sumac breadcrumbs and store at room temperature in an airtight container.
- Up to 1 week ahead: Make the dressing, cover, and store in the refrigerator. Mix thoroughly before using. Wash and prep the romaine lettuce. Cover with a paper towel or kitchen towel and store in the refrigerator.
- Right before serving: Assemble the salad, sprinkle with sumac breadcrumbs and grate the pecorino on top.
omg I am drooling at this, I’ll be making this asap!
Evan Kalman says
Yes! I’d love to hear what you think!