Monday, August 15, 2011

I Made This: Strawberry and Candied Walnuts Salad.

I sure am making a lot of stuff lately.

Recipes are like magic to me.  How do people come up with these things?  I have piles and pile of recipes that I want to try out, and very, very rarely try to make anything without step by step instructions in black and white. 

This weekend I took an itsy bitsy step into the great unknown and made something without a recipe. I realize that my creation is nowhere ground breaking, in fact you have probably had something similar in a fancy restaurant. I did say it was an itsy, bitsy step.

I was invited to Sunday Dinner, and volunteered to bring a salad.  The main course of the dinner was going to be a roast and vegetables, and I thought that a tossed salad would be just too many vegetables. To you healthy people, that probably sounds ridiculous, but it is summer, so salads are still allowed to be a little crazy.

Disclaimer: this is the first time that I have ever attempted to write a recipe and brevity has never been my fortitude, but this is not a complex salad. You basically just throw things in bowl.

Strawberry and Candied Walnuts Salad

1 and a half cups candied walnuts (see below)
1 pound of strawberries, cut into bite size pieces
1 8oz block (not the ball) of mozzarella cheese, cut into small cubes.
Baby greens and spinach.
Handful of fresh chives, finely chopped
Bottle of raspberry vinaigrette dressing

First, candy the walnuts. I used this easy recipe. However, I used vanilla flavored almond milk instead of milk and skipped the vanilla extract. You can find candied nuts in the snack aisle of any grocery store, but it is usually cheaper to make them yourself, especially if you already have left over walnuts from pesto making. They are simple to make, will impress your guests and fill your home with a lovely cinnamon aroma.

As the nuts are cooling, wash and dry the greens and tear into small pieces if necessary. Place in an adorable serving bowl. I thought mixing the greens and spinach would add a little dimension, and make Popeye proud.

Cut up the strawberries and cheese and add to the greens.  Any mild, creamy cheese would also work, like brie. Goat cheese would also be delightful if you are a goat cheese type of person.

Go out to your herb garden and cut a handful of fresh chives.  Wash and finely chop and add to the salad bowl. I wanted only a slight onion flavor and chives were perfect.

The candied walnuts should be cooled by now.  Break into bite size or smaller pieces and sprinkle over the salad.

Mix up the salad in your typical classy way.

Allow guests to add their own amount of bottled dressing.

I was undecided about a dressing for this salad. I knew that I wanted a vinaigrette. I was leaning toward making either a balsamic or champagne vinegar based one because both go amazing with strawberries. However, I ended up just bringing along of bottle raspberry vinaigrette. I used Paul Newman’s brand, ‘cause you know, it's Paul Newman and charity.  I think it complimented the salad nicely.

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