Remember those containers of crispy fried onions that used to adorn salads way back when? Yes, they were terrible, awful, so dreadful in fact that as a kid I couldn’t get enough of them—the oily residue from the crispy coating leaving my palm shiny and slick as I covertly snacked while ostensibly sprinkling them on the salad. And while thankfully those days are long gone, my affection for crispy onions is not. When I’m nostalgic for them, these more nuanced (and much more delicious) lightly fried shallots do the trick. Combined with velvety lettuce, creamy chickpeas, and a crisp Persian cucumber, the shallots make this relatively straightforward salad both surprising and sassy.
In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. While the oil heats, put the cornstarch in a small bowl and add the shallots. Dredge the shallots evenly in the cornstarch, shaking off any excess. When the oil is hot, add the shallots to the pan and cook, turning frequently, until golden brown and crisp all over, about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to remove the shallots from the oil and drain on paper towels. Season with salt and pepper.
In a large bowl, combine the lettuce, cucumber, and chickpeas in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough oil to lightly coat everything and enough sherry vinegar to suit your taste. Toss and taste for seasoning.
To serve, sprinkle the crispy shallots on top of the salad.
© 2015 All rights reserved. Published by Rodale Books.