- 2 tablespoons chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as parsley, chives, tarragon, basil, and/or cilantro
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt plus more for seasoning
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper plus more for seasoning
- 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 cups vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- 1 1/2 cups rice flour
- 11/2 cups very cold seltzer water, plus more as needed
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Essence
- 2 large Vidalia onions, or other sweet onions such as Oso Sweet, Walla Walla, or Maui, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rings
- 10 ounces baby romaine lettuce, rinsed and patted dry
- 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
In a medium bowl, combine the herbs, shallots, garlic, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper and whisk to blend. Slowly add the olive oils in a thin, steady stream, whisking constantly until the vinaigrette thickens. Set aside.
In a large deep pot or electric fryer, heat the oil to 350 degrees F.
Combine the rice flour, seltzer water, remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper in a medium bowl, and whisk to form a smooth paste the thickness of pancake batter. Adding more seltzer water as needed. (Best results are obtained when the batter is very cold.) Combine the all-purpose flour and Essence in a shallow bowl.
Toss 12 of the largest, outer onion rings in the seasoned flour, and dredge in the batter, shaking to remove any excess. (Save the remaining, smaller onion rings for another use.) Carefully add the onion rings to the hot oil, and cook, turning occasionally to prevent the pieces from sticking together, until golden on all sides, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and season with salt and pepper.
Place the baby romaine in a large bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette. Lightly season with salt and pepper.
Place 1 fried onion ring in the center of each salad plate and stuff with 1/2 cup of the dressed romaine. Repeat, for a total of 3 onion rings and about 1 1/2 cups of baby romaine per salad, with the greens spilling out of the top. Garnish each with 1 tablespoon of the Parmesan and a generous drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Serve immediately.
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