Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Gourmet Salad with Sweet Vinaigrette

Oh, friends.  I have stumbled upon a gem here.  This salad was found on melskitchencafe.com- an amazing site where every recipe is out of this world.  I haven't tried anything that I haven't loved from her site.  This salad was exceptional.  I originally made it for Christmas Eve dinner as a side dish.  My brother, who has a love for good food like Animal from the Muppets has a love for drums, tasted this salad and said, "This is the best salad I have ever eaten."  That man knows good food!  I will have to agree with him though.  It's got the apples, candied pecans, shaved Parmesan, homemade croutons, and bacon!  What is not to love?  Then, you add the vinaigrette on top of all that.  Mind is blown.  That stuff is so good.  Brace yourself for some deliciousness.
Gourmet Salad with Sweet Vinaigrette
source: http://www.melskitchencafe.com/2010/05/gourmet-green-salad.html

serves 8-10

10-12 c mixed greens
2 apples, diced and tossed in a little lemon juice to prevent browning
1/4 c thinly sliced or shaved Parmesan cheese
1 large carrot, thinly slices or julienned
1/4 c red onion, thinly sliced
5-7 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
3 c croutons (preferably homemade- see below)
1/4 c candied pecans (see below)

2/3 c red wine vinegar
1 1/2 c sugar
1/4 c red onion, diced
2 T dijon mustard
2 t salt
ground pepper, to taste
2 c canola oil

Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.  Toss to combine.

For the dressing, combine the first six ingredients in the blender.  Blend well.  While the blender is still on, slowly add the canola oil.

Serve alongside the salad.  You can drizzle some over and toss it, but I like to keep it on the side in case someone doesn't like as much dressing.

For the candied pecans, heat a small skillet over medium heat.  While it is heating up, add the 1/4 c pecans and 2 T of water and 2 T sugar.  Stir to dissolve.  Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low to maintain a simmer.  Cook for 5-7 minutes.  Keep a close on eye on them!  Once the sugar water is evaporated, remove the pecans to cool on a single layer on a plate.

For the homemade croutons, cut hamburger buns, rolls, or bread into cubed using a pizza cutter.  You want them to be 1-inch cubes.  Pre-heat the oven to 425.  Place the bread cubes on a cookie sheet.  Drizzle with about 2-3 T of olive oil.  Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and some Italian seasoning, if you're feeling a little adventurous.  Toss the cubes with your hands to coat the bread cubes.  Spread them back into a single layer.  Bake them in the oven for 8 minutes.  They won't be completely crunchy, but they will be delicious.

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