Walnut Blue Cheese Salad

>> Monday, March 9, 2009

A few weeks ago, I made a batch of banana bread and had a bunch of leftover walnuts. I decided to browse around online to find a new recipe to try, and I stumbled across this recipe on Food Network. It's one of Rachael Ray's recipes. I was initially hesitant to try it because, honestly, I've never really cared for most of her recipes that I've tried. They seem to lack flavor a lot of the time. But with this one, I was definitely not disappointed!

The ingredients will sound strange. As in, when my husband asked what I was making, he gave me a very strange look when I told him the ingredients. And he took his first bite very cautiously. :) But these ingredients compliment each other so well -- the sweet dressing balances out the bitter nuts and the sharp cheese -- it's just perfection!

The original recipe calls for spinach. I thought I had some left but ended up being out, so I just used romaine instead. I think it turned out really yummy, but I'm eager to try it with the spinach next time to see which way is better.

You can make this a great meatless lunch by serving breadsticks on the side. That way, it's just enough to fill you up without stuffing you so full that you can't function the rest of the day. If you serve it for dinner, you'll want to pair it up with some sort of protein because it's definitely not super hearty and filling on its own.

10 ounces baby spinach
1/3 pound blue cheese crumbles
6 ounces walnuts, chopped and toasted**
1/4 cup maple syrup, warmed
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Arrange spinach on a large platter. Top with walnuts and blue cheese. Set aside. Warm syrup in a small sauce pan or in the microwave, just until warmed. Pour vinegar into a small bowl and whisk in olive oil until combined. Then whisk in warmed maple syrup. Pour dressing over salad, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

**To toast nuts, simply chop them up a bit and put them in a dry skillet over low heat, stirring frequently, until you can smell them. This really deepens the flavor and makes them extra nutty.

Have you ever tried a recipe with weird sounding
ingredients that you ended up loving??


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