Sunday, January 26, 2014

Tossed Green Salad with Strawberries, Gorgonzola Cheese, and Poppy Seed Dressing

As mentioned in my post from a week ago, I had the entire family over for dinner recently to celebrate January birthdays. One of the foods I served was a tossed green salad with poppy seed dressing. It's a favorite around here and I thought I would share the recipe with you all. There are many recipes for poppy seed dressing, but I personally think the version I'm about to share with you is the best tasting one around.

Here is a photo of the salad. Hope it tempts you to try it!

Tear a big serving bowl full of greens. I used mostly romaine with some spring greens added so I would have enough to feed everyone. Organic mixed greens are prevalent in most grocery stores and are great for when you want salad in a hurry. But romaine is excellent in this instance. Cook's choice.
Now add some red onion (I sliver mine. You can dice it also.). Next, core and slice some strawberries...say about 1-2 cups. Add a good handful of gorgonzola cheese...and some candied pecans (or simply use regular pecans...or walnuts or almonds or whatever sounds good to you).
I'll tell you how to make candied pecans below. But first, the dressing.

Poppy Seed Dressing

1 cup vegetable oil (I suppose you could use olive oil but I never have)
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar (resist the urge to use white vinegar; you'll be disappointed)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dry mustard
In a blender (I use my NutriBullet, large container), mix together all of the dressing ingredients until very well blended. The dressing will be somewhat thick. Use immediately or refrigerate until the time comes to serve the salad.
That's it. Very easy. And so delicious you'll be finding excuses to make the stuff. It is also good on fruit salads, but this tossed green salad makes all other salads pale in comparison in my opinion.
Now to make those candied pecans:
1 cup pecan halves or pieces
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
In a saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add the pecans and stir them so they are coated with the melted butter. Add the brown sugar and stir until the are caramelized. Spread them on wax paper or parchment paper until cool and set.
You can also make a heavy sugar syrup using granulated sugar and a small amount of vanilla. Thoroughly coat the pecans; set them on parchment paper on a cookie sheet and place them in a 275 degree oven for about 20 minutes, stirring once or twice. The trick if you do it this way is to make the syrup really sugary so there's something to stick to the pecans. But it does work. And the subtle vanilla flavoring is oh so good.

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