I am a vegetarian. I love vegetables. I like salads when they are made well, but I rarely LOVE salads. I eat them on a regular basis, but don't make them very often. I think they taste better when someone else makes them. :) I also am a little funny when it comes to putting fruit on salads. I'm just not usually a big fan. I don't like to mix sweet and savory. I like them better separate. I don't like the sweet potatoes with marshmallows served at Thanksgiving. Weird, I know. I'd probably like them if they were savory roasted sweet potatoes or something along those lines. I'm weird. As my husband would say "wonderfully weird" (Thanks 'Friends'!)
Back to the salad ... I went to Buca Di Beppo (we don't have one where I live, the closest one is 80 or so miles away) with my family and my mom ordered a salad. Not just any salad. This salad. I was hesitant, but tried it. I LOVED it! I think it's one of my favorite salads, hands down! It's delicious. Even my husband who doesn't eat salad very often craved it for dinner one night, so I had to look up a copycat recipe online. (Thank you Google!) It tasted exactly the same. Try it! You won't be disappointed. If you are. . . sorry in advance.
Buca Di Beppo Copycat Apple Gorgonzola Salad with Italian Vinaigrette
(Thank you meemoskitchen.blogspot.com!!)
1 granny smith apple (chopped, and sliced for garnish)
8 oz romaine lettuce (washed and chopped)
2 Tb Gorgonzola cheese (crumbled)
2 oz Spiced California Walnuts (chopped .. recipe below)
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup Italian vinaigrette (recipe below)
Make spiced walnuts. (They take roughly an hour) While waiting for walnuts, make the vinaigrette. (This will be best if it sits for at least a half hour) While waiting for walnuts and vinaigrette to sit, slice and chop apple. Chop lettuce and crumble cheese.
Once everything is ready, mix vinaigrette into lettuce. Add chopped apples, 3/4 of the walnuts and 3/4 of the Gorgonzola cheese. Toss well. Plate and garnish with remaining walnuts, cranberries, apples and cheese. Serve immediately.
Buca Di Beppo Italian Vinaigrette
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
3/4 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp salt
1 pinch black pepper
1/8 cup red onion, chopped fine
1 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
3/4 cup olive oil
Combine the vinegar, oregano, dry mustard, salt and pepper in a blender. Add the onion and garlic. Blend together while slowly adding the olive oil. By adding the olive oil slowly, it will emulsify with the other ingredients creating a thicker vinaigrette. Let vinaigrette sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. This is best made shortly before using.
Spiced California Walnuts
(Recipe from the California Walnut Board)
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
2 cups California walnuts (halves and pieces)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
Preheat oven to 225 and line a large shallow baking pan with foil.
Combine egg white and water. Beat until foamy. Add walnut halves and pieces and toss to coat. Pour the mixture into a strainer and let drain 2-3 minutes.
Combine sugar, cinnamon and allspice in a plastic or paper bag. Shake to mix.
Add the walnuts; hold the bag shut and shake vigorously to coat the nuts.
Spread the nuts in one layer on the prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes.
Cool completely, stirring occasionally and breaking nuts apart if stuck together. Don't worry if they stick to the foil, it's easy to peel them off.
Store in a tightly-capped jar.
Makes 2 cups.