I’ve been in a salad rut. We eat salad just about every day, and sometimes it’s just too easy to dump pre-washed greens into a bowl, toss with olive oil, drizzle balsamic vinegar and freshly ground black pepper, and eat. It’s delicious, but I’ve been so ready for some new inspiration.
At my cousin’s beach wedding this weekend, I got it: spring greens, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, panko crusted goat cheese, and a creamy balsamic dressing, lovingly encircled by two strips of cucumber. I could definitely do this salad at home — sans cucumber, which I left on my plate, and the goat cheese, which I passed off to Pete.
I googled “creamy balsamic dressing” and came up with what I thought was a close approximation. Adjust the amounts to suit your taste. The olive oil mellows the flavors.
CREAMY BALSAMIC DRESSING
- ¼ c Balsamic vinegar
- 2 t Dijon mustard
- 2 T mayonnaise
- 2 t honey
- 1 clove garlic, crushed with a garlic press
- 1/2 c olive oil
- 1/2 t salt
Measure all the ingredients into 1 c measure and whisk. That’s it!
This dressing is better made ahead because the flavors have had a chance to meld. If you’re making it close to serving time, as I usually am, crush the garlic first and add it to the oil. This gives the garlic a little more time to release its flavor while you measure the other ingredients.
CANDIED WALNUTS OR PECANS
For the candied walnuts, I adapted Cooks Illustrated’s sweet potato topping which is essentially the same thing.
- 1 egg white, lightly beaten
- Add ½ c packed brown sugar
- 1/8 t salt
- 2 c walnuts or pecans
- dash of cayenne and paprika
Whisk together egg white, brown sugar, and salt.
Stir in nuts until evenly coated.
Sprinkle cayenne and paprika.
Bake at 275 (I used the toaster oven to avoid heating up the kitchen) until lightly toasted (about 20 minutes), watching carefully and stirring occasionally.
You probably don’t need 2 cups for your salad, but they’re so yummy you’ll want to factor in a few for tasting. Use leftovers for your next salad, snack, or topping for yogurt and fruit.