Jan 6, 2011

Peppery Greens with Pine Nuts and Gorgonzola

This salad is absolutely perfect! It's a great accompaniment to any sort of meat, soup or veggie main. We ended up taking this salad inspiration and running in two different directions with it, both of which were fantastic! If you like salads and enjoy trying new things, please try one or both of these!

Caitlin: This salad is great because it's so versatile - you can really use any combination of greens and it goes great with the toasted pine nuts and cheese. I decided to use goat cheese instead of Gorgonzola and added dried cranberries - it was a perfect combination with the vinaigrette and pine nuts. It's now become a family favorite that everyone (kids included) enjoy.

Caitlin's version with dried cranberries and goat cheese
Monica: I love salads of all sorts and this is definitely no exception.  The flavors are well balanced and the vinaigrette is extremely flavorful!  I decided to vary mine by topping my salad with raw walnuts instead of pine nuts. I also added dried apricots to the mix (one of my favorite dried fruits) to offset the richness of the cheese. In terms of the vinaigrette, I used apple cider vinegar and a bit of honey.  Caitlin suggested adding the honey and I am glad she did, it just added a tad of sweetness, however, it is not a sweet dressing. I actually ate this as my main dish, my lunch, with a some whole-grain baguette (I almost always have to have bread with my salad).  If you are looking for some added protein you can add some grilled or roasted chicken. This salad is a keeper!
Monica's version with Walnuts & Gorgonzola

Ingredient List
¼ cup Pine Nuts
1/4 cup Walnuts
1 shallot, chopped
1 tsp Dijon
2 tbsp sherry wine vinegar (or apple cider vinegar)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp honey
1 bunch watercress
1 head butter lettuce (or romaine)
1 small head radicchio
1 bunch arugula
¼ cup gorgonzola cheese (or goat cheese)
* 1/4 cup dried cranberries, if using
*1/4 cup dried apricots, chopped, if using

Preheat oven to 350. Toast pine nuts on a cookie sheet for 5-7 minutes, or until lightly browned. OR, toast in a skillet on the stove. Transfer to plate and set aside.
*If using walnuts, you can toast them or use them raw.

Make the vinaigrette: whisk together the shallot, honey, mustard, and vinegar in small bowl and slowly add the oil whisking until emulsified. Season with s&p.

Tear all the greens into bite sized pieces and place in a large bowl. Toss in the vinaigrette, nuts, cheese and any additions you're using. Toss again to incorporate all the dressing. Top with additional cheese and nuts if preferred.

Dried fruit, such as cranberries or apricots pair perfectly with the pine nuts and vinaigrette.

You can omit the shallot from the dressing and it still tastes great. 

Drink of Choice
Caitlin: Something refreshing and bubbly, such as Perrier with a twist.
Monica: Just like Caitin, I enjoyed some Pellegrino with a squeeze of lime.

Caitlin: Since I ate this salad with the soup, I was still listening to the Twin Peaks soundtrack. Although something upbeat and light would be a great backdrop to the light and refreshing salad.
Monica: This was the perfect lunch after a rainy morning, hence, inspiring some of my music choices.
1)  She's Electric - Oasis 
2)  Silver Wings - Merle Haggard
3)  Out on the Weekend - Neil Young
4)  Don't Get Me Wrong - The Pretenders
5)  Ready or Not - The Fugees

A Recipe to Remember?
Yes, it is versatile, delicious and healthy!

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