Well here you go. A week or so ago I promised (on Instagram) to share this wonderful romaine salad with you (sorry for the teaser) and it kind of feels like a holiday, all this bubbly anticipation in my tummy like something really exciting is about to happen. Salad will do that to you when it’s as amazing as this one.
My friend Teri kindly gave me this recipe after she and I made about 3,000 pounds of it for a church Christmas party last month. I can tell you this, there were more rave reviews over this magical salad than any other thing on the menu. Literally, people were rushing into the kitchen after the party wanting to know what was in the magnificent salad and what prompted the change from the usual bowl-of-iceberg-lettuce-with-enormous-bottle-of-ranch-dressing that is normally served at such things (we quickly hid the gigantic, sanitized tub we had used to mix it all up in – you know, keep the magic alive that whipping it up for 400 people wasn’t a big deal at all).
The light vinaigrette (kind of sweet, kind of savory, kind of all things yummy) can be made in advance, along with the candied walnuts, and then it’s just a matter of tossing things together: crisp romaine lettuce, bacon, dried cranberries or cherries, any number of cheeses (feta, bleu, Parmesan) and sweet, crunchy candied nuts. Oh, and just a note about those divine candied nuts? Um, you should probably just go ahead and quadruple that batch because I may or may not be able to testify that they are also divine sprinkled atop yogurt and eaten for a snack at about 2:43 p.m. every single day.
I’ve been keeping all the ingredients in separate containers in the fridge/pantry so I can get this on my plate lickety-split for lunch. Talk about a pick-me-up on your average Tuesday afternoon. Plus, try adding grilled or rotisserie chicken to this salad for a heartier, main dish option. Heaven. I think I know what that is now.
Amazing Romaine Salad with Light Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup white vinegar (see note)
- 1/3 cup avocado oil, olive oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon poppy seeds
- 1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans are my favorites)
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- Small pinch of salt and cayenne pepper
- 2 heads of romaine lettuce, chopped
- 1/2 cup feta, bleu or Parmesan cheese
- 6-8 strips bacon, cooked and chopped or crumbled
- 1/2 – 1 cup dried cranberries or cherries
- For the dressing, combine all the ingredients except the poppy seeds in a blender and process until combined. Add the poppy seeds and give it another whirl to combine. Pour in a jar and keep in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- For the nuts, in a 10-inch skillet, combine the nuts, sugar, butter, salt and cayenne. Heat over medium, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until the sugar and butter melts and coats the nuts, 3-5 minutes. Immediately scrape the nuts onto a sheet of parchment and separate carefully into pieces to cool.
- In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, cheese, bacon, dried fruit, and cooled nuts (break them into smaller pieces with a mallet, if needed). Pour a bit of the dressing over the top and toss to combine. Add more dressing, if needed (you may not use it all). Serve immediately.
I’ve also made it deliciously with red wine vinegar and an orange champagne vinegar I spied at Trader Joe’s.
Follow @melskitchencafe on Instagram and show me the recipes you are making from my blog using the hashtag #melskitchencafe. I love seeing all the goodness you are whipping up in your kitchens!
Recipe Source: adapted from my friend, Teri (reduced the oil and sugar a bit in the dressing, added a pinch of salt and cayenne to the nuts)