Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Let’s count the ways this salad is classified as gourmet in my book:

1) It comes from my sister-in-law, Mary, who is the epitome of classy gourmet. (Can you tell I have some talented sisters-in-law or what??)
2) It involves homemade croutons which can be classified as manna from above, in my opinion. I love me some homemade croutons. (Check out the homemade crouton how-to below the recipe.)
3) It is topped with a delicious homemade red wine vinaigrette that my husband may or may not love enough to drink straight from the jar. Sick, but true.
4) It looks so beautiful you could serve this at a dinner party and I swear everyone would forget what was served as the main dish. It’s that good.
5) It has such a unique combination of add-ins that compliment each other perfectly (my favorite bites? sweet, juicy pear, tender greens and Parmesan cheese…oh, yum).
6) It involves bacon. Enough said.

You may think salad is just plain ol’ salad, but wait until you try this gem. You just might decide to go gourmet every day.

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

Gourmet Green Salad with Homemade Red Wine Vinaigrette

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Ingredients:

Salad:

  • 10-12 cups mixed greens (I use the large rectuangular box from Sam’s Club)
  • 1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 ripe, fresh pears, sliced thinly (you can also use fresh strawberries, raspberries, or apples)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced Parmesan cheese (I grab my big block of Parmesan cheese and use my vegetable peeler to slice of thin peels of Parmesan)
  • 1 large carrot (or about 5-6 baby carrots), thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 5-7 slices of bacon, cooked and coarsely chopped
  • 3 cups of homemade croutons (see below for a how-to)

Red Wine Vinaigrette:

  • 2/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup red onions, finely grated (about 1/4 of a large red onion)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 2 cups canola oil

Directions:

  1. For the salad, put mixed greens in a large salad bowl. Top with other ingredients and toss. Serve with red wine vinaigrette dressing below (or any other favorite salad dressing).
  2. For the dressing, add all ingredients except oil in a blender. Blend well. While processing, slowly add the canola oil and blend well. Transfer dressing to a jar or cruet. It keeps well in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks (although I’ve found it gets a little thick if it is too cold so I’ll pop it in the microwave for 5-10 seconds to help thin it out before I use it if it has been in the refrigerator for several days).

Notes:

Mary serves this with candied nuts as well. I am not a huge fan of sugary sweet nuts but if that is your fancy, feel free to throw some in!

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Recipe Source: my sister-in-law, Mary

*Homemade Croutons:
Ok, the dealio with homemade croutons is that they are 100 times tastier than store-bought and require minimal effort. I don’t stress over what kind of bread to use. I open up my freezer and pull out baked rolls or homemade hamburger buns I’ve been storing there. A delicious rustic ciabatta loaf works well, too. Basically, I don’t think you can go wrong if you use a hearty, sturdy loaf or roll that won’t fall apart on you.

For today’s purpose, I am using some homemade buns I used with this recipe (subbing whole wheat for half the flour). Start by cutting them into about 1/2-inch strips.

My rolls were thick enough that I then took those strips and cut each slice in half again lengthwise, as shown.

Cut each strip into about 1/2 to 3/4-inch cubes.

You’ll end up with a big pile of yummy bread cube goodness.

Place the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and oh yeah, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Drizzle the bread cubes with about 2 tablespoons olive oil and toss well with your hands so the cubes are evenly coated, for the most part.

Next, take about a teaspoon of coarse/kosher salt and sprinkle it over the bread cubes.

Do the same with about 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.

Toss again until the spices are evenly distributed. Then pop the croutons in the oven for about 8-10 minutes, checking often and baking until the cubes are golden brown and toasted.

Serve them on this gourmet green salad or your favorite salad and try not to let your kids eat too many as a snack or your salad will look a little sparse.