Monday, May 19, 2008

If I Were a Top Chef...

...and presented with a salad challenge, I'd try a spin on this one by Emeril Lagasse. I ate it at Emeril's in Orlando and was so amazed by the flavors, I had to find the recipe to make at home.

Spinach Salad with Andouille Dressing and Three Nut Crusted Goat Cheese

1/2 pound ground andouille sausage or other pork sausage
1 cup finely chopped onions
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup toasted walnut pieces
1 cup toasted pecans
1 cup toasted hazelnut pieces
6 ounces goat's cheese
1 pound fresh baby spinach, cleaned and patted dry
1 cup julienned red onions
Freshly ground black pepper

In a saucepan, over medium heat, brown the sausage, about 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onions and garlic. Continue to cook for 3 minutes.

Deglaze the pan with the vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any sausage that has stuck to the pan. Whisk in the oil. Remove from the heat and set aside. Using a mini-food processor, fitted with a metal blade, grind each nut separately. Season each nut with Essence. Form the cheese into 18 small balls, each ball about 1 tablespoon of cheese. Roll six of the balls of cheese in the ground walnuts. Roll six of the balls of cheese in the ground pecans. Finally, roll the remaining 6 balls of cheese in the hazelnuts.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the spinach and red onions. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the spinach with the andouille dressing. Mound the salad in the center of each plate. Arrange each of the nut crusted balls of cheese around the spinach.

Yield: 6 servings
Recipe Courtesy Emeril Lagasse and Food TV Network, 1999

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