January 15, 2012

Escarole and Nut Salad

I'm obsessed with salad.  In the winter I stick with hearty escarole which has a nutty and slightly bitter taste that pairs well with nuts and a lightly sweetened balsamic dressing.  Feel free to add a crumble of blue cheese and/or bacon to this dish.

Makes 1 to 2 servings

1/4 head of escarole or one large fistful (*See note)
1 tablespoon nuts (roasted salted cashews, peanuts or almonds)
3 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon mustard
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 clove garlic
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon salt (to your liking)
A few turns of fresh cracked pepper

To make the dressing, put olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, sugar, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Whisk until blended.  Flatten the clove of garlic once under the flat side of a knife and add to the bowl.  You will remove the garlic before dressing your salad.  Set dressing aside (or place it in the fridge for later use).

To make your salad, take the escarole, rinse very well under tap water to remove any sand that may be lodged in the leaves (I’ve chipped a tooth on sand from escarole, so rinse it well!).

Chop escarole and nuts and add to a mixing bowl.  Right before serving, whisk your dressing again, remove the garlic and pour the dressing over your salad.  Toss and add more fresh pepper and salt if desired.

*If you purchased a large head of escarole, it will have much darker outer leaves.  In this case, use the lighter inner leaves to make salads.  The darker green outer leaves are better used in soups (See Nonna‘s Escarole and Broken Spaghetti Soup).  If you purchased a smaller head, you can use all the leaves in salads.

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