Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Arugula Spring Salad: Strawberry Vinaigrette, Pickled Shallots &BrieCroutons

Alright, so to start, this recipe may sound out there. Pickled shallots? Strawberries? WHAT?! No, seriously, it is good. Really good. I liken it to the salad that they sometimes bring to the table in Japanese Steakhouse. Kind of a citrus-ginger dressing over the top. It's tangy, sweet, salty; it's got a lot going on.

Brie Croutons might sound bonkers. I know. But try them with the strawberry Vinaigrette. It's dangerously good for a lover of anything brie.

It's a salad that just tastes like Spring. The recipes for heavy stews, soups & roasts of winter are tucked in Las Vegas they are tucked away for the next 6 months! Kind of sad about that. There's a magic about winter. Of course, we don't get snow and our winter was in the 70's more than 30's this year. It was a mild winter. But winter brings the holidays, family comes together and the recipes are deep, hot, flavorful, & nourishing.

Now we enter the hibernation season in the desert. It's backwards in our neck of the woods. Pretty soon, people will hide inside tucked away from the 100+ degree weather and here at my house, we eat loads of Popsicle and watermelon, and not much of anything else. Now this salad will be on rotation.

Strawberry Vinaigrette, Pickled Shallots & Brie Croutons

over Arugula & Red Leaf Salad

Arugula, rinsed
Red Leaf Lettuce, rinsed and cut
1 Whole Shallot (1/3 for dressing & 2/3 for pickling)
Pack of Strawberries
Dried Cranberries
Shelled Walnuts
Pickled Shallots (recipe below)
Strawberry Vinaigrette (recipe below)
Brie Croutons (recipe below)

Strawberry Vinaigrette

1/2 Cup Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1/3 Medium Shallot
4 Strawberries
2 Tbsp Feta
8 Walnuts
1 Wedge Lemon Juice
1/2 tsp each salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika

Combine all ingredients in food processor and blend to smooth. Add salt and pepper to your tastes.

Spicy Pickled Shallots

Red Wine Vinegar (about 1/2 cup- enough to cover shallots)
Shallot (use the rest of the shallot from dressing)
1 tsp Sea Salt
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
Good pinch of red pepper

Slice shallots into thin strips.
Whisk the marinade. Microwave the liquid for 30 seconds.

Cover the shallots and refrigerate for an hour.

Drain shallots before adding over salad.

Brie Croutons

2 Slices French Bread
Soft Butter for spreading
Wedge of Brie

Spread butter over one side of the bread, just like if you were making a grilled cheese.

Slice the brie into thin slices.

Heat a pan and put butter side down of the first slice of bread.

Add a thick layer of cheese to the side facing up.

Finish exactly as a grilled cheese; add the second slice, butter side up. 

Flip to get the cheese melted through and both sides nice and toasted.

Remove from heat; let it cool until the cheese isn't gooey. 

Finish by cutting into cubes. Put the cubes back on low heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Let them toast for 30 minutes, giving them a stir every so often. Serve warm over top of the salad.

Assemble the Salad

Mix equal parts of cut red leaf lettuce and arugula. Top greens with a handful of dried cranberries and walnuts. Crunch the walnuts into smaller pieces first. Add sliced radish over the top. I found these great "Easter Egg" radishes at Glaziers Market.

They were too pretty to pass up, so they ended up in the mix. Added a nice little spicy crunch. Don't forget the pickled shallots! You can even throw a couple of sliced strawberries over the top. Top it all of with the Strawberry Vinaigrette and add the Brie Croutons at the last minute before serving.

Here is my attempt at salad art. I was feeling inspired that day:

Then the everyday version for Super Steve who is not a Brie fan. Blasphemy, I know! I snuck some on for the photo though. Ha.

That's it for today.
Until next time....Happy Cooking! I'm not sure that I'll have my next recipe done before, so I'll wish you a Happy Easter, too!!!


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