Spoiler Alert! This salad is easy and delicious….and not one ingredient came from a farmers market! Gasp, I know. Me-Miss “eat and buy local”. I know, I know.
Ahem. I can explain.
I have been buying quarts of strawberries at the markets, and honestly, they’ve been good, but not great. I’m not wowed and I really want to be. But, here’s the thing-we’ve had so much rain, and strawberries prefer dryer conditions. Dryer weather sweetens the berries and this area has seen over 9 inches of rain in the past month.
I’m contemplating building an arc-a small one-it only needs to fit 3 dogs.
Which is why I have been keeping an eye open for sales on strawberries at my local markets. Yesterday, I found them on sale at Whole Foods for $3.89 per pound. They are much sweeter than local berries at this time. I will be checking out the local farmers berries each weekend to see how the taste is coming along over the rest of the season.
This salad is a a perfect begining, or ending to a meal. The candied pecans will have you snacking on them again and again (the recipe makes 2 cups). The sweetness and crunch of the berries and nuts plays nicely off of the creamy, salty tang of the cheese and mild pepper taste of the watercress.
Salad of Watercress, Strawberries, Gorgonzola Dolce and Candied Pecans with Champagne Vinaigrette
- 1 large bunch watercress-about 6 cups loosely packed, washed and dried (you can use arugula or escarole)
- 4 large or 8 small strawberries, washed and dried just before serving, quartered
- 1/2 cup candied pecans (see recipe below)
- 1/4 lb. gorgonzola dolce, crumbled (you can use any mild blue-veined cheese)
- 2 Tablespoons champagne vinegar
- 2 tablespoons spicy apricot mustard (you can use other mustards such as dijon, or cranberry, or any fruity mustard if you like)
- kosher salt, pinch
- pepper, 2-3 grinds freshly ground
- 6 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 cups pecans, rough chopped
- 1 egg white, beaten
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- pinch kosher salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees
In a bowl, combine pecans and egg white. Coat fully.
Turn coated pecans out onto a baking sheet which has been sprayed with a non-stick spray. Sprinkle sugar over pecans and turn to coat evenly. Sprinkle pinch of salt over the pecans and spread evenly on baking sheet.
Bake in oven for 30-35 minutes. Turn once during cooking. Allow to cool for 10 minutes. The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for 4 days, or in the freezer for 1 month.
In a small bowl, add champagne vinegar, mustard, salt and peppers. Whisk briskly to incorporate. Continue whisking and slowly stream in olive oil. Continue whisking until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Adjust seasoning to taste.
To compose the salad;
Arrange watercress, quartered strawberries, crumbled gorgonzola and candied pecans on 4 salad plates
Drizzle vinaigrette over composed salads and serve immediately.