Monday, August 30, 2010

An A+.

My mother taught me a very practical rule of thumb for sizing up the truth.  The saying goes, "If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is."  For some reason, it took me a long time to get this rule cemented into my brain.  Life lessons came and went - some painful, some embarrassing, some regretful, all combined with a disproportional measure of dashed hopes and furtive optimism.  It seemed I was determined to test and disprove this rule of thumb. Or perhaps to prove my mother wrong even though the other law of the universe is that mothers are always right.  And though she was right about 99% of the guys, goals, jobs and scams, one day, unintentionally, I happened to prove her wrong.  To my great surprise, this Thing that is Too Good To Be True is what I least expected it would be.  It is not a person, car, stiletto, treehouse, gown, cottage, boot, novel, film or country.  It is not a romantic date, a dark chocolate dessert or even France.  It is, quite simply, quite fantastically... a salad.

[recipe via House Beautiful]

You might not even believe me, based on the photo.  This picture looks like what you could find and order in any restaurant, whether an ordinary chop house joint or a five star gourmet establishment.  However, the hidden, magical element of this salad that brings me to declare (skeptic though I've learned to be) that this salad is too good to be true is what the eye cannot see, and that is the dressing. (Remarking on the taste explosion of blue cheese + bacon is just beside the point.)

  Anyway, the dressing.  The dressing!  Normally I avoid Ina Garten, (who has the most annoying nickname ever) because she doesn't mind dumping a pound of mayonnaise and a gallon of heavy cream into the same recipe.  If there was ever a woman who could make a carrot clog your arteries, it is The Barefoot Contessa.  But this salad, oh, this salad.  It is an A+.   This salad proves my mother's saying to be .01% inaccurate, an impossible feat, yet here it is.  I know it sounds too good to be true, but it isn't. 

Ina Garten's Cape Cod Chopped Salad
Serves 4 to 5
8 slices (8 ounces) thick-cut bacon, such as Niman Ranch
8 ounces baby arugula
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/2 cup toasted walnut halves, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries
6 ounces blue cheese, such as Roquefort, crumbled
For the Dressing:
3 tablespoons good apple-cider vinegar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup good olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
2. Place a baking rack on a sheet pan and lay the bacon slices on the rack. Roast the bacon for about 20 minutes, until nicely browned. Allow to cool.
3. In a large bowl, toss together the arugula, apple, walnuts, cranberries, and blue cheese. For the dressing, whisk together the vinegar, orange zest, orange juice, mustard, maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and the pepper in a bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
4. Chop the bacon into large pieces and add it to the salad. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to moisten. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and toss well. Serve immediately.  


Lenore @ Lather. Write. Repeat. said...

Oh wow, that looks like a pretty fantastic salad. I'm going to try it sometime soon!


Grown Up said...

Just found your blog a few days ago--it's great! I'm in the process of starting a project to eat more local food. You sang the praises of this salad so convincingly that I had to try it for lunch yesterday.

You did not oversell it.

Dear. God. Maybe the World's Most Perfect Salad? Sadly, I have a blue cheese aversion (I know, it's sad), so I subbed in some briny, stinky feta that was dee-licious. Thanks for the recipe!!

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