Active Time
45 MIN
Total Time
2 HR 45 MIN
Yield
Serves : 4 to 6

My friend Justin Smillie is one of those larger-than-life New York City restaurant characters who accrues nicknames like a billionaire compounds interest. He’s a big guy with a big personality, a chef whose cooking yields layers of big flavors. So it makes sense that the new hit at his Miami outpost of Upland is a big salad: It’s large-format, composed of pristine ingredients stacked vertically along the interior curve of a giant wooden bowl, and served with a generous crystal carafe of buttermilk ranch dressing. It turns heads in the dining room.


At home, the dish is dinner party gold: Assemble it ahead of time in the biggest, prettiest bowl you own, and pass it around the table with tongs, or serve it tableside with a butler’s flair. Balance is key—you want sweet, sour, and salty flavors; crunchy, soft, and chewy textures; and to arrange the ingredients at various heights—but customize it as you like.

My version includes shrimp, crab legs, avocado, six-minute eggs, pickled carrots and red onions, and roasted sweet potatoes. But you could go Greek with a garlicky skordalia sauce with roasted potatoes and beets. Or think Spain (sliced skirt steak, romesco, grilled scallions, toast rubbed with tomato). Or Super Bowl (wings, blue cheese, celery, pickled carrot, iceberg wedges, garlic bread).

There are but four rules: A big salad requires lettuces, a unifying dressing, a sense of humor, and please, no dipping. This is salad, not crudité.
 Chances are if you’re a mkgallery Wine reader, you’re already the best dinner party host (and guest) among your friends. A big salad is a reputation builder, one of dozens of recipes and ideas in this Home Issue that will help you entertain and outfit your kitchen in style. So go ahead, dog-ear these pages. Invite some friends over for Saturday night. Set the table. Go big.

How to Make It

Step 1    

In a large bowl, nest ingredients together by type, using the interior curve of the bowl to stack them tall. Serve with dressing on the side.

Step 2    

Quick-Pickled Carrots and Onions: Heat 1 1/2 cups white or rice wine vinegar, ½ cup water, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, and 2 teaspoons kosher salt in a medium saucepan over medium until sugar dissolves. Place 1/4 pound peeled and halved small carrots with tops and 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onions in shallow, heatproof dish. Cover vegetables with hot vinegar mixture; let stand 2 hours or overnight.

Step 3    

Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Slice 2 peeled sweet potatoes into 1/2-inch-thick rounds; place in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Bake at 425°F until browned and tender, about 20 minutes, flipping slices once after 10 minutes.

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