Little Gem Salad &
Mustard Seed Buttermilk Vinaigrette

This buttermilk dressing is lighter than most, with the mustard seed adding unexpected warmth. It's just right for a late-summer lunch with the last of the season's summer heirlooms. 

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/4 teaspoons black mustard seeds
2 tablespoons white wine (or Champagne) vinegar
1/2 teaspoon fine ground sea salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
3-4 medium heads of little gem lettuce
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, cored & cut into wedges
1/3 cup (Marcona) almonds, toasted
1/2 tablespoon dried sage, lightly crushed
plenty of chopped chives

To make the dressing, combine the olive oil and mustard seeds in a small saucepan over a low flame. Cook just until the mustard seeds begin to pop. Remove from heat, and cool until popping subsides. In a small bowl combine the vinegar and salt, slowly drizzle in the mustard olive oil (and seeds), whisking to emulsify. Add buttermilk, whisking all the while in the same manner. Remove the rough outer leaves of the little gems. Cut them in half, clean thoroughly, then dry. Cut each half once again, into quarters, leaving their cores intact. Arrange the little gems and tomatoes on a plate and generously drizzle the dressing over salad, taking to care to dress the individual lettuce wedges. You'll likely have some to spare. Finish with the almonds, dried sage, and chives.

Serves 4.

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