Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Mixed Up Salad and Vinaigrette

Tonight I made a salad which is a huge deal. You see, normally in our house, a salad consists of lettuce and store bought dressing -- that's it. And on nights when I'm feeling particularly high-brow, I'll sprinkle in a little Parmesan cheese. It's not that I don't like salad, I just despise chopping and washing vegetables night after night. So instead, salads are kept simple.

Christmas Eve my sister-in law asked me to bring over a salad to have with dinner. I must tell you that this request was disquieting. Normally for family gatherings I'm asked to bring either an appetizer or a dessert, never a salad. I'm still not sure why sister-in-law put me on salad duty, but I'm glad she did. It forced me to do a little research and in doing so, I managed to find a salad that didn't involve a ton of ingredients. To my surprise, the salad was really good {nice} and it was no sweat off my back {real nice}.

I adapted the recipe from a Costco cookbook -- Creative Cooking the Costco Way. Instead of fresh spinach, I used green leaf lettuce; instead of pecans, I used walnuts; instead of Granny Smiths, I used Braeburns. For the salad dressing I took ingredients from several recipes in order to make one that I thought the entire family would enjoy. I guess you can say that this is a Mixed Up Salad. Here are the ingredients:

2 tbsps butter
2 tbsps sugar
1/2 walnuts
Fresh greens of your choice
1 cup dried cranberries
1 large apple of your choice, cut into cubes
1/2 cup {or more if you like} Gorgonzola cheese crumbled

1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp minced shallot
1/2 cup vegetable oil

1. Prepare vinaigrette: Combine sugar, paprika, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar and vegetable oil in a jar with a secure lid. {I used a jelly jar}. Refrigerate until ready to use.

2. Melt butter and sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat. Toss in walnuts and cook until coated and slightly darkened. {Watch closely as these cook fast.}

3. Place greens in a salad bowl and toss with 1/2 cup vinaigrette until lightly coated. Add cranberries, apple cubes, candied walnuts, Gorgonzola cheese.

There is plenty of vinaigrette leftover for the rest of the week too. Step aside Paul Newman, there's a new vinaigrette in town. And even though the recipe comes from Costco, all of the ingredients were from Safeway and that's only because I didn't need a tub of Gorgonzola cheese or cranberries.

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