Sunday, March 27, 2011
Baby Blue Salad
Posted by: Maggie
Hello there. How was everyone's weekend? I feel like mine flew by, as usual.
Most of the weekend was spent being lazy (and making this salad for lunch on Saturday,) but I did have some fun Saturday night plans. Jeff and I went out to dinner at one of my favorite DC restaurants, Nando Peri-Peri, and went to a goodbye party for a friend at a fun divey bar called The Big Hunt. Nando is a quasi sit-down restaurant - you place your order at a counter and they bring the food to you, but if you want dessert, or a drink, or anything else while you're sitting a server will bring it over. The food is absolutely delicious, particularly if you love spicy food like me. I had the 1/4 chicken cooked with their second hottest sauce, and it was perfect. If you live in DC I highly recommend checking it out!
Now, onto this salad. I am a big fan of salads with a lot of "stuff" on them. To me, there is nothing lamer than a plain old side salad of iceberg lettuce and mealy tomatoes topped with store-bought ranch dressing. I got this recipe from my mom, but a little googling tells me that it was actually created by a chef named Franklin Biggs, for the Homewood Gourmet Cafe in Alabama. Apparently it was his signature salad during his tenure there, and a very popular menu item. I can see why, after I scarfed down about 1/2 of what the recipe made in one sitting.
Here is what you'll need, slightly adapted from Franklin Biggs' version:
1 5 ounce bag mixed baby greens
4 oz crumbled blue cheese
1 small can mandarin oranges, drained
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, quartered
Sweet and spicy pecans (recipe below)
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)
Toss together the first 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette, gently tossing to coat. If you're serving this as a salad course, toss the greens with the vinaigrette first, and then arrange the fruit and pecans on the salad, and sprinkle with cheese. That's what I did, since it looks purtier.
Sweet and spicy pecans:
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup warm water
1 cup pecans
2 T sugar
1 T chile powder
1/8 t cayenne pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together sugar and warm water until sugar dissolves. Add pecans, and soak for 10 minutes. Drain and discard liquid. Combine the sugar, chile powder, and cayenne pepper. Add to the pecans, and toss to coat. Place pecans in single layer on lightly greased parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven, or until golden brown, stirring once.
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
3 T Dijon mustard
3 T honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 small or 1 large shallot, minced
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
1 cup olive oil
Whisk together first 7 ingredients until blended. Gradually whisk in olive oil, blending well.
Side note...is anyone else experiencing crazy large strawberries at their grocery stores? These suckers are from Whole Foods, and this comparison photo doesn't really do justice to the size of these things. For the record, that is a large egg shown below. What are the farmers feeding these things?!