Arugula Salad with Manchego, Apples, Dates and Candied Walnuts

Well darn, we’re all supposed to be dieting now, aren’t we?  Carrot sticks, low fat cottage cheese and boneless skinless chicken breasts, right?  Woo hoo…jump for joy (insert frowning face).

Would it be too much to ask for one last hurrah?  Say, some decadent mac & cheese with kielbasa sausage?  That’s actually on the menu here this evening and if it is as great as it sounds, will most likely find its way to this blog.

Of course none of this has anything to do with the salad recipe that I’m posting, so I suppose I should say a little something about it!

I’m not sure how I came across this recipe.  I think it popped up on Epicurious one fall day and since I am in love with all the ingredients, it went to the top of my “recipes to make” pile.  After tweaking the ingredients a bit,  I served it for the first time at an impromptu girlfriend gathering in November and let me tell you, it is CRAZY GOOD!

What a splendid contrast of flavors and textures and of course the variations are infinite.  Substitute parmesan cheese, white cheddar or aged gouda for the manchego or pears for the apples, etc.  I wanted to  post this earlier, but every time I make it, it disappears so fast, I don’t have time to take a photo!  So last evening, when we served it for New Years, I took a quick time out to get a shot with my handy dandy smart phone device.

Happy new year again to one and all.  I’ll be reporting back from mac & cheese land soon!

Arugula Salad with Manchego, Apples, Dates and Candied Walnuts

  • 1/2 cup walnut oil
  • 3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
  • Kosher or sea salt and ground black pepper
  • 8 cups arugula
  • 2 Honeycrisp, Gala or Fuji apples, unpeeled, cored, thinly sliced
  • 6 ounces Spanish Manchego cheese or sharp white cheddar cheese, shaved
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted dates, sliced
  • 1 cup candied walnuts (see recipe below)
  • Balsamic glaze, purchased (optional)

Preparation

Whisk oil and Champagne vinegar in bowl. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 4 hours ahead. Keep at room temperature. Re-whisk vinaigrette before using.)

Toss arugula, apples, half of cheese, dates, and walnuts in large bowl with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.

Mound salad in center of each plate. Drizzle balsamic glaze around salads (optional). Sprinkle remaining cheese atop salads.

Serves 6 to 8

Caramelized Walnuts

  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups walnuts

Preparation

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line heavy rimmed baking sheet with foil. Spray foil with nonstick spray. Combine sugar and vinegar in small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Add nuts; toss to coat. Transfer mixture to baking sheet.

Bake until nuts are deep brown and syrup thickens and coats nuts, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet. Break nuts apart. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

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