Arugula Salad with Toasted Pecans, Blue Cheese, and Sherry Vinaigrette

At the Highlands Bar & Grill, Frank Stitt occasionally serves this salad with roasted beets, sometimes including curly endive, bibb lettuce and watercress with the arugula. So feel free to add those if you want. I would. And if you can’t find Fourme d’Ambert, use blue cheese from the Auvergne, Roquefort, or Stilton. Or choose a great American blue, such as Humboldt Fog or Maytag.

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup pecans
  • 2 large bunches arugula, plus other greens, if desired
  • 1 red onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 ounces blue cheese, such as Fourme d’Ambert, rind removed, crumbled

Method

Preheat the oven to 300°F. Toast the pecans for 5 to 7 minutes, until ligtly browned and fragrant.

Wash and dry the arugula and other greens if using them, and place in a towel in the refrigerator until ready to make the salad.

Put a heavy skillet over medium heat until the pan is hot, about 2 minutes. Add the red onion. Cook for about 8 minutes, stirring constantly, until the slices are charred and softened. Let cool to room temperature.

To make the vinaigrette, put the shallot in a small mixing bowl. Add the sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, and a pinch each of salt and pepper; let macerate for 15 minutes. Slowly whisk in the olive oil and taste to see if more salt and pepper are necessary.

Meanwhile, put the toasted pecans in a small bowl. Add a splash of olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper.

To assemble the salad, put the arugula, red onion, toasted pecans, and blue cheese in a large bowl. Toss together just until mixed. Add the vinaigrette and toss again.

Divide the salad among 4 plates and offer with a glass of white wine.

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