Congratulations! We are nearing the end of the first week of the New Year! There are only about 51 more weeks of 2011; of suffering through this year’s resolutions (should we make it that long). Hopefully, you’ve been holding strong in your efforts to avoid those delicious maple bacon donuts teasingly calling your name. Trust me, it is SO much easier to stay on track when you aren’t hungry, bored with your food options, or feeling like your meal is lacking. Parties That Cook has just the thing to restore dwindling willpower: Winter Salad of Arugula and Pear with Spiced Walnuts. The crisp, fresh flavors in this salad are enough to slap your hand away from that cookie jar!
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2/3 cup walnut halves, lightly toasted
4 cups canola oil
1 Tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot clove, peeled and minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
2 ripe bosc pears, sliced in wedges lengthwise
1/2 pomegranate, seeded (optional)
3/4 pound arugula (can substitute watercress or spinach)
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Spice Walnuts: Mix the powdered sugar, cayenne, allspice, nutmeg and salt together. Set aside. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil; add walnuts and boil 5 seconds only. Drain and immediately toss thoroughly in the sugar and spice mixture.
Fry Walnuts: Heat canola oil in a frying pan to 325°F. (If the oil gets too hot, the sugar coating will burn and fall off). Lift the nuts out of the sugar mixture with a skimmer and fry the nuts until golden and crisp, about 30 seconds. Drain nuts on a cooling rack set over a cookie sheet. (Do not use paper towels, as the nuts will stick.) Between batches, skim the dark bits that float to the surface of the oil. When all nuts are fried, set aside until ready to assemble salads.
Create Vinaigrette: Mix the balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, shallot, sugar, salt and pepper in a small mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the oil while whisking vigorously to emulsify. Set aside until ready to assemble salads.
Crisp Prosciutto: Separate the prosciutto and lay flat on a cooling rack over a sheet pan. Bake until crisp, about 15 minutes. Let cool on rack so the fat will drain. Crumble into bite-size pieces.
Prepare Pear and Pomegranate: Slice the pears into thin wedges, lengthwise and set aside. Cut the pomegranate in half (take care to watch for the red juices – they stain). Immerse the pomegranate in water. Break up the pomegranate with your hand. The membrane will float to the top. Skim off the membrane and then pour the seeds and water through a strainer. Measure 1/2 cup of seeds. Reserve the rest for another use.
Clean Salad Greens: Wash, spin dry and trim the greens if necessary.
Serve: Toss the pear slices in a bit of the vinaigrette and set aside. Then toss the greens in the vinaigrette and arrange on plates. Place the pears on top, sprinkle with pomegranate and garnish with the walnuts and prosciutto.
Recipe created by Parties That Cook® www.PartiesThatCook.com