When your friends find out you like to cook using fresh ingredients from your local farmers' market, you may be really lucky and have one of them subscribe to a food magazine for you as a gift. A colleague of mine at the hospital gave me the great gift of a two year subscription to Fine Cooking magazine. The magazine is loaded with great tips and encourages experimentation. Cooking Light and Cook's Illustrated are two others I like also. Of course, the internet is an endless source of recipes and ideas. Epicurious.com has all the recipes from Gourmet and Bon Appetit. FoodTV.com has searchable recipes as does Chef2chef.com. Of course, you can always just Google an ingredient and find many ideas.
This week's recipe is my own version of a salad I had at a restaurant. The fresh dates and honey mustard vinaigrette make it stand out from other similar salads I have tried. Any time walnuts or pecans are used in a salad, I am tempted to "candy" them. The honey in the dressing and the natural sweetness of the dates allows the nuts to be used simply toasted.
(I will note here that I am starting to experiment with different olive oils — some for cooking and some for dressings. There actually may be a discernible difference. I will keep you informed.) I love this salad. It is light and exceptionally flavorful.
- Mixed salad greens for four, washed and dried
- 6 Medjool dates, pitted and quartered lengthwise
- 1/3 cup pecans, toasted at 350 degrees for 5-6 minutes
- 2 oz Point Reyes blue cheese (it's the blue cheese I know best living close to Point Reyes)
- 2 Tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1 tsp honey
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 small garlic clove, minced
- 2 Tbsp light olive oil
- Salt and pepper — start with 1/8 tsp salt
Divide the dates and pecans unto four salad plates. Top with mixed salad greens. Add the sherry vinegar, honey, mustard, garlic, and olive oil to a small jar and shake vigorously or just whisk everything together. Season the dressing. Drizzle a little over each salad. Top with a crumbled blue cheese of your choice.