Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Candied Walnut Salad

As I stated before, I was assigned salad for Christmas dinner at the in-laws. Now, to ME, "salad" means something green and leafy with a bunch of tasty toppings, likely fruits or vegetables. I've learned over the years that "salad" can be interpretted in many ways. Salads can be made out of gelatin (although in my family growing up, anything made out of jello was always a DESSERT), salads can be made out of cool whip, salads can also be made out of coconut and mandarin oranges. I once asked someone (who will remain nameles... ahem... my MIL...) to bring a salad thinking it would be green and leafy. I was much surprised when something including coconut, cool whip, mandarin oranges and pineapple appeared on my table. ANYWAY, so when I was assigned a salad, I made sure to bring a good old vegetable based salad.

I also decided to stir things up a bit. My husband's diet growing up was pretty traditional, not much outside the box. So any time I have ever had salad at his parents house, it has always consisted of iceberg salad in a bag, 2 cucumber slices, 1 tomato wedge and ranch dressing. I wasn't quite sure how this salad would go over with such a crowd.

Much to my surprise, this salad from Our Best Bites was a hit! It was gobbled up by almost all the guests (still a few stubborn ones in the crowd!) and I received complements from everyone who enjoyed it. It is quite the tasty salad, I must admit. I even made a leftover salad out of the remaining ingredients for dinner for myself tonight. This salad would be delicious a piece of grilled chicken breast or grilled salmon on top as an entree.

I did not make any nutritional changes to this salad as it is pretty healthy as it is. The walnuts in the salad are a great source of vitamin E as well as receiving lots of antioxidants from the dried cranberries. Being from Michigan, I would imagine dried cherries would also be a delicious substitute for the cranberries.

Candied Walnut Salad

2 heads of leafy greens: (I used a head of romaine lettuce and a bag of spring mix greens)
3/4 cup craisins
2 crisp apples, chopped
orange juice (enough to toss the chopped apples in to prevent browning)
2 oz blue cheese or Gorgonzola (I LOVE gorgonzola cheese!!!)
1/2 cup walnuts
1/4 cup sugar
1 recipe Honey Red Wine Vinaigrette

Wash and chop lettuce, set aside to drain.

Place walnuts and sugar in a dry skillet over medium heat. Stir constantly. After a few minutes, the sugar will begin to appear very fine, then a few minutes after that, it will start to liquefy. This is when you must be absolutely vigilant about scraping the bottom of the pan. The syrup will begin to darken and stick to the nuts. When it reaches a golden brown color, remove from heat. Stir nuts a few minutes until they begin to slightly cool and nuts are well coated. Spread onto wax paper or parchment paper and allow to cool completely.

Chop blue cheese or Gorgonzola finely into crumbles. Chop apples and toss in orange juice.

When ready to serve, toss lettuce, apples, cheese,walnuts and cranberries. Add dressing. I used about a quarter of the dressing tossed in and served the rest on the side if people desired extra.

Makes 8 servings (without dressing):
176.4 calories
8.4 g fat
23.9 g carbohydrate
3.2 g fiber
4.5 g protein

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