Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Mixed Greens with Goat Cheese and Candied Almonds

Clearly, I've been on a candied nut kick lately. They become dangerously addictive and any recipe that calls for them becomes an instant "must try" on my list. They also add such a great crunch to salads, and since it's 95°F here, salads sound pretty amazing. I promise once it cools down I won't be posting about salad every other day, but remember when it was summer where most of you live? And how sweltering it can get when you don't have an air conditioner?

Anyway, back to the salad I discovered during my candied nut hunt. This is a quick one to throw together, except the dressing requires about 30 minutes to reduce on your stove. You can add more to it, switch cheeses, switch nuts, but it's really the dressing that is great. Try to avoid using extra virgin olive oil (light olive oil would be better), since it overpowers the flavor of the apple cider vinegar and sparkling cider. I cut the recipe in half and it made a great lunch for 3 (assuming not all 3 are starving). The salad dressing makes A LOT more than you need. You can save it in your fridge for another salad, give some away, or scale it back. I decided to save some and give the rest away to my friend who was the guinea pig today. She loved the dressing and was a happy to help get rid of the extra.

Adapted from Bon App├ętit
Serves 8 as a starter or 4 as a main
Prep time: 10 minutes (if dressing and nuts are pre-made)

2 5-ounce bags mixed greens
12 ounces/340 grams soft goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup candied almonds

4 cups sparkling cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons grated onion
1/2 green onion, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 cup light olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, reduce the sparkling cider until only 1/2 cup remain. This takes about 30 minutes. Transfer to a medium sized bowl and chill. Once cooled, add vinegar, grated onion, green onion, poppy seeds, and mustard. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss greens, cheese, and almonds with enough dressing to coat.

Candied Almonds:
1 1/2 cup almonds
1 cup sugar
pinch on cinnamon

In a heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine all of the ingredients. After about 10 minutes, sugar will begin to caramelize. At this point, stir constantly until the sugar is browned and thick. Don't leave these at this point at they burn very quickly. When coated in sugar, pour onto parchment paper and separate as much as possible before they solidify. Note: Do not do this by hand, once browned, the sugar is extremely hot and will burn you. Use a for or knife to separate. Once the sugar is dry and coo, break nuts apart.

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