Saturday, April 5, 2014

Wine Country Salad

There's really nothing more satisfying -- for me, at least -- than waking up early on a crisp, sunny morning, throwing open the windows, and ensconcing myself in my kitchen.  In those moments, it's just me and my ingredients, and it's downright zen-like.

This morning, I've been prepping my half of a picnic, as I'm meeting one of my dearest friends to do what we do best...drink wine.  She lives in Loudoun Co., so she is my resident expert on Northern Virginia wineries, but today we're going to venture to a winery neither of us has been to.  I hear it is also a horse farm, so if you hear the news tonight and there's a breaking story about a woman stealing a horse and riding off with a bottle of wine yelling, "A PONYYYYY!!!!!", yep, that'll be me.  My friend is bringing an array of charcuterie and cheeses, so I felt it was my duty to bring the produce.  I picked up some amazing strawberries while I was in getting my Crop Share yesterday, and when I saw the romaine I knew what else needed to happen...BIG...SALAD.  I only used a part of the bundle of romaine because I want to save the rest for lettuce wraps, but with the honeyed almonds, dried cherries, the peppery arugula, and the earthy splendor of the black truffle salt, I wanted to pull a lot of my favorite wine notes and put them all in one salad.

It looks like a gorgeous day, so whatever you do today, enjoy the outdoors and whip up something bright and fresh with this weeks Crop Share (someone, for my lack-of-grill-sake, please fire up a grill to sear slices of eggplant and then top them with roasted red peppers, goat cheese, and a splash of olive oil & balsamic vinegar)!

Wine Country Salad

7 Romaine leaves, chopped
1 lg bag arugula (70 oz)
8 oz dried cherries
1 cup sliced almonds
2 Tbsp local honey
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup white wine vinegar (Nalls carry Virginia Vinegar Works' Chardonnay White Wine Vinegar)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp black truffle salt (I get mine at Spice & Tea Exchange in Old Town, or just use Kosher salt)
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan

In a skillet, toss almonds in honey and brown over medium heat.  As the honey heats up it will melt down to allow you to mix it up a bit better.  And stir fairly regularly to prevent any of the almonds from burning.  Once they're golden brown, remove from heat and set aside to cool.  They will cool into almond candies, so just break them apart as you're adding them to the salad.  Allow to cool completely to prevent wilting your greens.

In a large bowl, toss together greens and cherries.  Add in cooled honey almonds, and set aside while you make the dressing.

Whisk together oil, vinegar and mustard until you have a smooth emulsion with no visible streaks of oil left.  Stir in black truffle salt and taste to see if you need to adjust any flavors.  Pour as much or as little of the dressing over top as you desire and toss to fully coat.  Or drizzle some on individual portions when you're ready to eat.  Sprinkle in shaved Parmesan and give it one final toss.  Serve immediately if tossed in dressing, otherwise you can allow it to chill in the fridge until you're ready to serve.

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