Thursday, March 30, 2017

Spring Salad with Grapes and Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese

I interrupt my recent #grahamandkelsiestoryofus series to bring you a salad recipe.

"Say what!?" you ask. I know. Like when does a salad recipe of all things trump a good romance story?

Today, y'all, today.

This has been a week of cooking (and much of it even successful!) and I'm hoping to get a few more recipes coming your way in the weeks to come (in addition to completing my love story, for the two of you who are waiting with bated breath). ;)  I served this salad on Tuesday evening when I hosted the ladies from my Bible study table for dinner. I have since been inundated with requests for the dressing recipe (ok fine so just 3 of the 8 of them asked) BUT STILL. So I decided I would kill two birds with one stone and do the public a favor and get this recipe out into all of your hands. Plus, the title of the salad begins with the word "Spring" and that is the season that tell me it is here the Pacific Northwest so I'm going with it. And just hoping the sunshine follows suit.

You might find this dish to be a timely addition to your Easter table, come to mention it. It's fresh yet it feels fancy and is fairly straight forward to prepare (though much more so if you have a food processer to do the pistachio chopping). It has been a hit every time it's been on the table. You begin with basic mixed greens and you dress them up with red grapes. Then small chunks of goat cheese are shaped into little rounds and then rolled in pistachios, creating a delightful combination of crunchy and creamy on the tongue. The process of making the cheese balls is admittedly a bit cumbersome but I figure my kids are almost to an age where I could set them up assembly-line-style and they could whip them out like nobody's business. ;)

It's really the dressing that makes this salad though. It consists of six basic ingredients that you shake together to combine in a mason jar. A single batch of it will dress two large salads easily and so you can enjoy it on multiple occasions. The dressing calls for two fresh herbs - basil and chives - and if you're looking to test out your green thumb, these are two I would highly recommend adding to your garden. Chives in particular couldn't be easier and plus they look really pretty amidst landscaping and in pots. They come back every year which is essential for our green thumb self esteem. I've had great success with both planting from seeds and beginning with starts. If you go the start route, buy at least three plants to make sure you always have an adequate supply ready to clip when a recipe calls. Harvesting them is easy - just trim off a handful (never the entire bunch) with kitchen sheers, rinse and chop. Clipping your herbs in this way actually stimulates more growth and you'll find new chives growing where you trimmed in no time! Enjoy.

Spring Salad with Grapes and Pistachio-Crusted Goat Cheese
(adapted from Cooking Light Magazine)

1/2 cup shelled dry-roasted pistachios, finely chopped
1 cup (8 ounces) goat cheese
1/2 cup Easy Herb Vinaigrette (recipe below)
2 (5-ounce) package gourmet salad greens or spring lettuce mix
2 cups seedless red grapes, halved
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Place pistachios in a shallow dish. Divide cheese into 24 equal portions, rolling to form 24 balls. Roll each ball in the pistachios until well coated. Set pistachio-crusted cheese balls aside.
Combine Easy Herb Vinaigrette, greens and grapes in a large mixing bowl and toss to coat. Add goat cheese balls and toss again gently. Sprinkle with fresh-ground pepper and serve immediately.

Serves 8

Easy Herb Vinaigrette

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup canola oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons minced fresh chives

Combine all the ingredients in a pint-sized (2 cup) mason jar and shake to combine. Store, covered, in refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Makes about 1 2/3 cups

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posted by kelsie