Salads and Side Dishes

Butter Lettuce Salad with Brie and Candied Walnuts

Salad…..for breakfast? While salad doesn’t seem like the most natural side dish for brunch, the answer is yes, so long as you use the right ingredients and flavors. Butter lettuce is the best choice for this type of salad; its creamy leaves don’t add bitter flavors like other lettuce choices. Add in sweet and crunchy pomegranate seeds, candied walnuts with a spicy flare, and rich brie cheese for a savory kick and we have the perfect brunch accompaniment. I particularly like this dish because it ties the flavors in the other dishes together, which is really important for a big buffet-style meal. You want enough flavors to make everyone happy without going overboard. A little sweet and a little savory all join together for a light and refreshing salad.

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Makes: 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes     Total Time: 15 minutes

1 large head butter lettuce, stem removed
1 pomegranate, seeds only**
1 wedge of brie, between 5 and 6 oz
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp cayenne pepper

For Dressing:
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tbs honey
1 small shallot, minced
salt and pepper to taste

  • For the dressing, whisk together all of the ingredients in a small bowl except for the vegetable oil. Drizzle the oil in, whisking constantly to create an emulsion. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. The dressing can be made the day before and refrigerated overnight. Otherwise cover and set aside until ready to use.
  • To make the candied walnuts, heat the sugar and cayenne pepper in a small, non-stick saute pan over low heat. When the sugar starts to bubble and brown, add the walnuts. Use a rubber spatula to stir the walnuts, allowing them to toast on all sides. When you start to smell a toasty flavor, remove the walnuts from the heat and spread into an even layer. Season with just a touch of salt. DO NOT TOUCH THE NUTS!! Sugar melts at an incredibly high temperature and will stick to your skin if you touch it. When the walnuts are completely cool, transfer to a cutting board and roughly chop into bite-sized pieces.
  • Make the salad by layering the lettuce, brie, pomegranate seeds, and walnuts in that order. Drizzle with the dressing just before serving.

* Pomegranate seeds can be a pain to remove from their rind. The easiest way to do this is by: 1) using a serrated knife to cut through the thick part of the rind, just before the seeds. 2) Fill a big bowl of water. 3) Break the pomegranate in half while it is completely submerged underwater and begin to gently pull the seeds away from the rind. You’ll notice that the thin white layer between the seeds floats to the top of the water while the seeds sink to the bottom. You’ll also notice that you have clean hands and no red stains to speak of!

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