Good gracious almighty. If doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the mark of insanity, I am a special kind of crazy. You see, I thought maybe I could move an entire home’s worth of belongings and get them organized in one day. Three weeks later, my second bedroom still looks like a photography studio exploded inside.
I thought maybe I could leave town for the weekend and get back to work right away, but yesterday didn’t work out so well. The fire alarms went off in my new apartment building for the first time and I’m still recovering from the shock. I understand that fire alarms should be loud, but forget the defibrillator—these could bring a mummy back to life. My ears ache just thinking about it.
And last week, I thought maybe I could just not sleep for a night to finish cookbook edits, which I managed to do—but I slept fourteen hours last night to catch up. Perhaps I should allow more time for recovery and extenuating circumstances, you say? Yeah yeah, I know, I know. (By the way, if you haven’t voted for the cover yet, you have just one day left!)
I’m also trying to make up for all the fresh, healthy food that I didn’t eat while my kitchen was in shambles. This green salad got me some bonus points in that area. It’s from a new cookbook called The Gourmet Kitchen by Jennifer Farley of Savory Simple, which offers a variety of gourmet recipes featuring fresh ingredients.
You know me; I couldn’t help but tinker with this recipe. Jennifer’s original recipe was inspired by bacon-wrapped, blue cheese-stuffed dates, which I loved before I swore off the bacon. I still really enjoyed it without the two slices of freshly cooked, crumbled bacon. I also tweaked the amounts of walnuts and blue cheese (a little more walnuts, a little less cheese).
This salad is a fun alternative to my favorite green salad. It would be a great addition to your holiday table, or your dinner table in general this time of year. With all the rich meals and holiday treats being passed around, it’s easy to forget the greens!
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey or maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Pinch of salt
- Several twists of freshly ground black pepper
- ⅓ cup chopped raw walnuts
- 5 to 6 ounces red leaf lettuce, torn into small pieces (about 5 to 6 cups), or spring mix
- 7 Medjool dates, pitted and sliced thin
- 2 Bosc* or Bartlett pears, unpeeled and sliced into ¼-inch thick pieces
- ⅓ cup crumbled blue cheese (Jennifer used Roquefort; I used a more generic blue cheese option from Whole Foods but I think Gorgonzola would work well, too)
- To make the dressing: In a small bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients and whisk to combine. Taste, and adjust if necessary—I added some more mustard and another pinch of salt.
- To make the salad: First, toast the walnuts in a medium skillet over medium heat until fragrant, stirring often, about 4 to 5 minutes. Set aside.
- In a medium serving bowl, combine the greens, dates, pears and toasted walnuts. When you're ready to serve, drizzle in some dressing (you won't need all of it) and toss until the greens are lightly coated, adding more if necessary. Serve in individual bowls with blue cheese sprinkled on top.
*Pear notes: This was my first experience with Bosc pears, which you'll probably see again in another recipe. I learned that they're more firm than most varieties, but you know they're ripe when they yield to gentle pressure at the neck.
Make it dairy free/vegan: Omit the cheese. If you're vegan, use maple syrup instead of honey.
Make it nut free: Substitute sunflower seeds for the walnuts.
Change it up: If you don't like blue cheese, goat cheese would be nice instead. I think this salad would also be great with slices of Golden Delicious apples, instead of the pears.