Apple & Pecan Green Salad with Gorgonzola Dolce

This beautiful salad is light and fresh, a perfect pairing for this week’s brunch fare.

Ingredients:
4 cups of your favorite spring lettuce greens, washed and patted dry
1 apple, cored and diced
½ cup gorgonzola dolce cheese, cut or crumbled into bite-size chunks
¾ cup cocktail pecans
Apple cider vinaigrette (see recipe)

Method:
1. In a large bowl, combine the greens and apple slices, tossing to mix well.

2. Drizzle about ¼ cup of the vinaigrette over the salad and toss to incorporate, then add more as desired. Top salad with the gorgonzola dolce cheese and cocktail pecans. Add more dressing and fresh ground pepper to taste, as needed.

Slow-Roasted Celery

This unexpected side dish is sure to be a new favorite.

Ingredients:
2 bunches celery, halved lengthwise, leaves removed and coarsely chopped
3 to 4 cloves garlic, pressed
3 tablespoons apple cider
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 bunch fresh parsley, coarsely chopped
3⁄4 cup vegetable or chicken stock
1 cup crumbled blue cheese
2⁄3 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 400°.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Blanch the celery for 3 minutes, scoop them out with a slotted spoon, and let drain. Place the celery on a baking sheet, cut sides down.

3. Whisk the garlic, apple cider and olive oil together, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the celery with half of the dressing and half of the parsley and slide the baking sheet into the oven. Pour the stock over them and cook for 45 to 60 minutes (depending on the thickness of the celery), until the celery al dente and the tips are coloring.

4. Transfer to a serving platter if desired. Drizzle with the rest of the dressing; sprinkle with the rest of the parsley, celery leaves, cheese, and hazelnuts; and serve.

Frisée Salad with Italian Plums & Hazelnuts

Later in the fall, this salad is equally amazing with slices of crisp apple or juicy pear.

Ingredients:
1 medium head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
1 medium head frisée, torn into bite-size pieces
1 ripe Italian plum, pitted and cut into thin slices
¼ cup hazelnut oil
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
½ cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. In a large bowl, whisk the hazelnut oil with the red wine vinegar and season with salt and pepper.

2. Add the radicchio and frisée and toss until coated. Add the plum slices, blue cheese and hazelnuts, season the salad with salt and pepper, toss gently and serve.

Grilled Peach Salad with Marcona Almonds

With peppery arugula and a red wine vinaigrette, this salad would also be incredible tossed with smoked chicken.

Ingredients:
3-4 peaches, pitted and quartered
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
½ cup Marcona almonds
3 cups loosely-packed arugula
1 cup crumbled Westward blue cheese
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper

Method:
1. Preheat the grill to medium heat.

2. Add the peaches to a large bowl, drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and toss to coat. Grill for about 2-3 minutes, flesh side down, until peaches are slightly softened and have grill marks.

3. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, mustard, honey and remaining ¼ cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

4. Gently toss the warm peaches in the dressing. Serve over a bed of arugula and sprinkle almonds and blue cheese over the top.

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