Fresh Garden Salad served with Sesame Persian Cheese and Candied Walnuts
I received a request for this salad recipe that I served with a tatin de petits oignons perlés à l'Indienne a few days ago.
Although my husband is vegetarian, he is not a big fan of simple green lettuce. So I tried to dress it up with little helpers like a citrus relish, cheese and some nuts. The nuts are a great addition of protein for vegetarians.
Of course, the key to a good salad is the vinaigrette. I always try to make my own because the store-bought ones contain preservatives and gum to make the texture more dense, instead of using mustard.
Yields: 12 servings2 bunches Romaine lettuce, washed, drained and spinned
1 block black sesame Persian cheese, cubed
2 Tbs roasted sesame seeds
1/2 dozen fresh kumquat
1 Tbs fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp cornstarch
1 pinch gray salt
1/2 cup fresh walnuts
4 Tbs superfine sugar
1/2 cup homemade vinaigrette
1 Tbs fresh dill, coarsely chopped
In a little prep bowl, pour the roasted sesame seeds and gently coat each cube of cheese with it.
In a small pan, dry roast the walnut for about 2-3 minutes, then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar. Sautee the walnut in sugar for another minute by shaking the pan so each nut is coated with sugar. Remove from the heat. Let the walnuts cool down.
Peel the kumquats and gather all the zest. Discard the rest. Blanch (dip for a minute in boiling water then transfer to an ice bath). Repeat twice. This helps lowering the bitterness of the fruit. Drain and pat dry the kumquat zest with a paper towel. Finely chop (julienne) the zest. Place the zest in a small saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons of sugar and the lime juice. Bring to a boil then cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally for about 15-18 minutes. Let the syrup cool down. Add the cornstarch and a pinch of salt then cook about 2 minutes longer.
Shred the lettuce. place the cubed cheese, top with the candied kumquats. Sprinkle the candied walnuts and dill.
Drizzle the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.
Black sesame Persian cheese can be found in any Iranian/Pakistani store. It's called Nabulsi cheese. It's quite similar to feta cheese but much milder/sweeter. I buy Karoun brand Nabulsi cheese.
To prevent the lettuce from wilting too fast, try not to cut your salad with a knife. I usually tend to just gently tear the leaves, your salad will remain fresh until you're ready to serve. Other tip: pour the vinaigrette at the very last minute to keep the salad crunchy.
You can serve this salad with my balsamic glaze vinaigrette that I made for the pan seared artichoke a few weeks ago.
I usually serve this salad in a big platter, family style but you can serve it individually for your more formal dinner parties.