Quail Salad with Warm Walnut Dressing

Warm salads are no longer particularly fashionable. Like quiche, pâtés and terrines they have moved along the conveyor belt of over-use into new oblivion. Perhaps they must wait a while like soups to be suddenly rediscovered. You and I need have no such worries. A warm salad – salad with warm components, to be more precise -offers contrasts of hot and cold, crunchiness of lettuces against meat or fish, and the opportunity to use an interesting dressing.

This quail salad is designed to be a first course. With more lettuce and some good bread it would make a perfectly satisfactory lunch.

Ingredients

  • 4 quails
  • a selection of salad leaves: lollo rosso, corn salad (mâche), frisée, cos or little gem lettuce
  • 2 rashers streaky bacon
  • 1 tablespoon pine kernels
  • 1 tablespoon groundnut oil
  • 2 tablespoons walnut oil
  • 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • a pinch of salt

Method

  1. Wash and dry all the lettuces.
  2. Grill the bacon and chop it. Toast the pine kernels.
  3. Seal the quails in the groundnut oil in a hot ovenproof metal pan, then put the pan and quails into a hot oven preheated to 400°F (200°C) Gas 6 for 15 minutes so that they are cooked.
  4. Make the lettuces into four crisp salads. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the walnut oil and 1 teaspoon of the balsamic vinegar over the leaves. Season with salt.
  5. Carve the quails into legs and breasts. Tuck these and the bacon and pine kernels in the salads.

To Complete

  • Deglaze the quail pan with 5 fl oz (150 ml) cold water, the remaining walnut oil and vinegar. As it boils it will emulsify like a sauce.
  • Pour this hot dressing around each salad.
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