I love salads. Love to make them, love to eat them, love 'em! Making a "fancy" green salad is really so easy if you follow a simple equation. Greens + fruit + nuts + cheese. And dressing. Easy! And when you choose really great ingredients, a simple flavorful dressing is the best. Here is my favorite dressing and then I'll give you some different variations of salad ingredients.
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp sherry wine vinegar (or red wine vinegar)
salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste - I really like mine salty - I use kosher salt)
3 Tbsp finely chopped shallot
Whisk all ingredients EXCEPT oil together. In a slow, steady stream, add oil, whisking until emulsified. Check your salt & pepper. You can also substitue any other kind of vinegar depending on your taste - strawberry champagne vinegar, grapefruit vinegar, balsamic vinegar, etc.
As for the greens + fruit + nuts + cheese, just have fun! For example:
spring greens + dried cranberries + toasted slivered almonds + crumbled bleu cheese
arugula + pomegranate seeds + sugared pecans + shaved romano
red leaf lettuce + tangerine segments + bbq pecans + bleu cheese
baby spinach & frisee + pepperoncinis + toasted pine nuts + feta
(okay, that doesn't have a "fruit" but it still adds that type of "wet" ingredient to complement the crunchy, salty, leafy stuff)
curly endive + red pears + BBQ pecans + crumbled Stilton (this is my favorite!)
But are you getting it? Try something new! And maybe I will post the BBQ pecan recipe - it's great as a snack or on salads.
Oh! One last note - sugared pecans or almonds or walnuts are fabulous on salad, especially if you have stronger flavors in the cheese and dressing and they are so so easy to make! A handful of nuts, sprinkle with a good amount of sugar in a skillet and heat until toasted and sugar melts, stirring constantly. Be careful not to burn them, they can go from good to bad quickly. Pour out on a plate to cool. You can get creative and add some balsamic vinegar, or use brown sugar, whatever floats your boat.