“Salad days,” a term coined by William Shakespeare in his play Antony and Cleopatra, is a spin on Cleopatra’s self-professed “green in judgement” youthful dalliances with Julius Caesar. But contrary to legend and lore, the Caesar salad actually got its name from its 20th century inventor, an Italian restaurateur named Caesar Cardini who ran a restaurant in Tijuana, Mexico.
Even so, although both the Roman Caesar and Egyptian Queen were doing the dallying — Shakespeare lingo for fooling around — Caesar’s name gets much more credit when talking about leafy greens dressed with the well-loved piquant oil and vinegar concoction than does Cleopatra.
There is such a thing as Cleopatra Salad. It’s a real menu item, but its ingredients are loose. Sometimes it’s a Caesar salad with sliced grilled chicken. Other versions feature an assortment of cheeses, from feta to parmesan to pungent blue.
It seems that the most important part of a Cleopatra (as opposed to a Caesar) salad is that it’s so much more than lettuce, parmesan cheese, anchovies, and croutons. It’s a salad named after a woman. It only makes sense to have a salad with voluptuous flavor — one befitting an Egyptian Queen.
This version features blue cheese, red grapes, and a creamy buttermilk dressing with a tangy tartness, thanks to fresh lemon juice.
Cleopatra Salad with Blue Cheese and Grapes Recipe
- 1 head romaine lettuce, chopped into bite sized pieces, rinsed, and spun dry
- 1 cup red grapes, rinsed and dried
- 4 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup croutons
Make the salad
Place salad greens, grapes, and cheese in salad bowl.
In small glass bowl or Mason jar with lid, combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Whisk ingredients to emulsify. If using a Mason jar, tighten lid and shake vigorously until liquids are combined.
Sprinkle croutons on top of greens. Dress salad to taste, tossing well.
Refrigerate unused dressing for up to 5 days.