Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Mixed Greens with Mandarins & Hazelnuts

One weekend, one salad, four parties
This last weekend was approximately 400% more social than most.  And like most get-togethers, food took center stage, with sports both played and watched a very close second.  The seasonal availability of mandarins and the extra hazelnuts I bought for biscotti, made the Zuni Café Cookbook recipe for Mixed Greens with Mandarins, Hazelnuts & Hazelnut Vinaigrette (pg 141) a clear choice … twice.  For another get-together we all enjoyed shopping for, preparing and savoring BiBimBop … wow.  It definitely wasn’t simple, but the high enjoyment factor (and leftovers) more than compensated.

I recently counted all the recipes in the Zuni cookbook and found a total of 281 recipes … many of which would push me WAY out of my cooking comfort zone.  Squab.  Mock Porchetta.  Rabbit Sausage.   Well, one day at a time.  After recently enjoying Risotto with Wild Rice, Squash, & Wild Mushrooms (pg 197), I figure I have 273 more recipes yet to try-adventure-experiment-rollercoaster through in 2014.  This winter salad is definitely a keeper and easy to make ahead and bring to a party.

We observed that I am on a citrus pinwheel kick. 

Mixed Greens with Mandarins & Hazelnuts

 For one of these salads I didn’t find Frangelico liqueur or hazelnut oil within my grocery shopping time limit… but with a broader search we secured the liqueur and included in the second dressing.  With or without is delicious.  I especially like J. Rodgers’ suggestion of dipping a lettuce leaf into the dressing to taste, and adjust seasons before finalizing (both times I added more olive oil).  I also like to combine the greens and dressing with my hands, the best and gentlest tools for the job.

Time:  10-20 minutes
Cost: $4-5
Servings: 4 adults + 4 kids as a side dish


1/2 c Hazelnuts (skins removed and coarsely chopped)
6-10 mandarins peeled and cut into pinwheels (video above)
½ extra virgin olive oil
2 T Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
2 tsp Frangelico liqueur or hazelnut oil (optional)
~10 c salad greens cleaned and dried
As you slice mandarins transfer them to a bowl and save juice.  In small mason jar combine oil, vinegar, liqueur or hazelnut oil if using, a trickle of juice from mandarins, and salt to taste.  Securely put lid on jar and shake vigorously.  Taste dressing and adjust seasonings.  Drizzle 1-2 T of dressing over sliced mandarins.

Just before serving the salad, drizzle and toss the lettuce with the dressing, coating lightly (you could have ~1/3c dressing left for another night).  Taste a lettuce leaf and add more dressing if needed.  Place mandarins on greens, sprinkle with nuts and enjoy.

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