Some friends of mine have this one special Christmas dinner every year. This year, I volunteered to bring the salad. As I stood in my favorite produce market last week, I had a sudden fit of pride. I was going to bring a darn good salad, and I was not, I repeat not, going to look at any recipe. I decided to let the season inspire me. What kind of salad is really a Christmas salad? Is there such a thing? Well, if there isn’t I just made one. And I like it. And everyone else at the dinner liked it as well. Make it and tell me what you think. If it needs improvements (and I think the dressing really does), please improve.
Christmas 2008 Green Salad (for lack of a better name)
stilton cheese with apricot
white wine vinegar and cider dressing
1. Make the candied pecans. Toss 1/2 pound of halved pecans in wash (1 egg white, 1 tablespoon of water), then coat with spiced sugar (1 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon cinnamon, dash of nutmeg, dash of ground cloves, dash of ginger). Spread coated nuts on greased cookie sheet and cook in 250 degree oven for 1 hour, turning every fifteen minutes. You won’t use all of the pecans for the salad. But, I used what I wanted and put the rest in a pretty bowl on my table…that is until P crawled onto the table and poured the bowl of pecans on the floor. I swore when he did that.
2. Make the croutons. Tear a day old baguette into bite sized pieces (I usually make about four croutons per person. You don’t need to tear the entire baguette apart). Toss the pieces in olive oil until each piece is good and soaked. Roast pieces of bread in 400 degree oven until they are browned and crouton-like, about 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.
3. Make the dressing. In the interest of full disclosure, I was unimpressed with this dressing. It needs something, but I don’t know what. Let me know if you figure it out.
1/4 cup apple cider
1/8 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
scraped sugar bits from pan I used to make candied pecans
1/2 Tablespoon minced shallots
bit of salt
more sugar if you want a sweeter taste
4. Tear butter lettuce into bite sized pieces. Wash and dry.
5. Assemble salad with everything but dressing. Crumble the stilton/apricot cheese onto and within the lettuce. Toss dried cherries, cooled pecans and croutons in.
6. Two minutes before serving, add dressing and toss.