It may look like a salad but really it’s my thinly veiled attempt at dressing a grilled cheese sandwich in healthy attire. And what could be wrong with that? Make it, taste it, and agree with me: absolutely nothing.
This salad began as a late-night, got-to-use-up-this-and-that kind of dinner. This and that that night was a handful of lettuce, a nub of cheese, and a stump of baguette that added up to a really good dinner that I was more than happy have an excuse to grocery shop for a few days later and share with you.
And I’ve got to say, this salad has got it going on! We have greens and pears for our health, candied walnuts for crunch and pizzazz, and melted cheese for creamy decadence.
Okay, let’s make a salad. Raid the fridge for greens and that chunk of cheese you’ve been meaning to use up. Grab walnuts from the cupboard, a shallot or onion, sprig of rosemary, and a pear.
We’ll start by making the candied walnuts. Drop a couple of spoonfuls of brown sugar and minced rosemary into a saucepan and melt them into a sweet, herby syrup.
Stir a handful of walnuts into the brown sugar syrup with a pinch of sea salt. Spread the nuts on one side of a parchment-lined baking sheet .
Place sliced baguette on the other side of the pan and toast the nuts and the bread for a few minutes.
After the bread and nuts have toasted for a few minutes, pull the pan out, break the walnuts up a bit, and top the bread with grated cheese. Yum, we are going to have the most excellent gooey, cheesy croutons. I used Tomme de Savoie cheese that was leftover from a Saturday night movie and cheese-fest the first time around and Comté for the second take. Both were good, though the Tomme packed a slightly more pungent punch. As long as you’re using a flavorful cheese that melts well, you’re in good shape.
While the cheese is doing its thing, dress the salad. We won’t do anything too fancy–we’ve got enough going on with the croutons and candied nuts. Put the greens in a big bowl with thin slices of shallot. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar, toss again. Add pear slices and give it a final toss. Pull the nuts and croutons out of the oven and you’re ready to plate things up.
Spicy greens, sweet ripe pears, crunchy walnuts, a little cheese funk–this salad delivers everything we could hope for! My belly is satisfied and I’ll purposely not eat that last nub of cheese on the Saturday night cheese plate knowing this Monday night salad is on the horizon.
- 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
- ½ tsp. minced Rosemary
- ½ c. Walnut pieces
- 8 ¼ in. thick Baguette Slices
- 2-3 oz. (about 1 c.) grated Cheese (I really like Tomme de Savoie or Comté. Any flavorful cheese that melts well can be used)
- 3 big handfuls Arugula
- 1 small Shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 Pear, thinly sliced
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Balsamic Vinegar.
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Place the brown sugar and rosemary in a small saucepan and place over medium heat until the sugar melts, 3-4 minutes. Keep a close eye on it-it can go from liquid to burnt and crusty very quickly. Stir in the walnuts and a pinch of sea salt.
- Spread the nuts on 1 side of a parchment-lined baking sheet. On the other side of the baking sheet, arrange the baguette slices. Lightly drizzle the bread with olive oil and transfer to the oven for 4 minutes. After 4 minutes, take the pan out of the oven. Break up the nuts. Flip the bread and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Return the pan to the oven for another 4 or 5 minutes until the cheese has melted.
- Meanwhile, combine the arugula and shallots in a large bowl. Add a drizzle of olive oil, a pinch of salt, and a few grinds of pepper. Give it a good toss, taste. Adjust seasonings as needed. Add a splash of vinegar and toss again. Add the pears and gently toss.
- Divide the salad between plates and top with the cheesy croutons. Sprinkle the candied walnuts and serve.