This recipe does have a specific inspiration: a recipe from the December '08 Food & Wine. While at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for said salad -- which I was to take to my brother-in-law's house for Christmas Eve -- I couldn't find one or two of the specified ingredients.
So I started improvising, in my head at least, and came up with what turned out to be a pretty darn good salad, although one that is probably better suited for a more modest-sized gathering.
Mixed Greens Salad with Pears, Fennel, and Roasted HazelnutsThis would probably be a nice accompaniment to some beef or lamb or a hearty pasta.
Turn the oven to 400 degrees. Roast the hazelnuts on a pan for about 10-12 minutes, until the skins are dark brown. Remove, let cool for a minute, put in a dish towel and rub vigorously to remove the skins from most of the hazelnuts. Chop or smash up the hazelnuts into smaller chunks, but not to a powder.
- 1 moderately ripe pear, cleaned and cut into thin matchsticks
- Half of a fennel bulb (or more, if you like), cleaned and cut into thin matchsticks
- Half cup of hazelnuts
- Healthy quarter cup of shaved pecorino
- Mixed greens (frisee, baby romaine, arugula, spring mix, etc.)
- 2-3 tbs of sherry vinegar
- 1 tbs of dijon mustard
- Teaspoon or so of honey
- 1/4 cup of good-quality extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Add the sherry vinegar, dijon, and honey to a medium bowl. Quickly whisk. Whisk in the olive oil, add salt and pepper. Taste: You want to taste the vinegar and a hint of sweetness. When the vinaigrette is where you like it, pour in most of the hazelnuts and give a good stir.
Put salad in a large bowl, top with fennel, pears, and pecorino shavings. Pour vinaigrette over top and give a good toss.
Happy New Year!
* Image from HunnyBunnyLu on Flickr.