Raspberry Salad with Sugared Walnuts and Blue Cheese

 The serious business of heaven is joy. C.S. Lewis

Oh boy, do I love raspberries! Little red jewels of flavor. They’re so delicate and so pretty!  Isn’t it fun to eat pretty food? And so versatile – amazingly good either in a sweet or savory dish. 

Many years ago I had a wonderful salad at one of our local restaurants, and this is my version of that salad.

First we need a really good raspberry vinaigrette.  I found a great recipe on All Recipes from a lovely lady named Valerie Jordan.  I changed it just slightly because it was a tad too tart for my tastes (raging sweet tooth here) – so start with a little less sugar and taste as you go to make exactly the way you like.

Simple lovely ingredients make up this delicious dressing.  Mix them together – put them in a jar and shake shake shake. I like to make this a day or two ahead of time because the flavors have tme to meld.  Also, you can substitute a different mustard to give it a slightly different flavor.

Now some caramelized onions – a perfect addition for this salad.  And so easy to make. 

Get an onion and some butter.

Slice the onion into fairly thin slices.

Melt some butter in a frying pan.

Add the onions and turn the heat down to medium low or low.  You want to cook these babies very slowly for a long time.  I’d say 30 to 40 minutes.

Get out a few more ingredients (I like them all close to room temperature except for the spinach).

While the onions are cooking, we’ll make some sugared walnuts.  Line a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil (I love this stuff!). Put the walnuts in a frying pan and turn the heat to medium high.

Add a nice amount of sugar…

And a little bit of water…

 

And stir it up.

Give the onions an occasional stir.  They should be starting to turn a light brown.  Remember to keep the heat low so they don’t burn.

The water in the walnuts should be starting to evaporate.  At this point keep stirring and turn the heat down a little if you need to.  You’ll see the sugar start to melt and carmelize to some extent.  And this smells heavenly because you’re toasting the walnuts so you get the rich walnut smell and the yummy sugar fragrance.

When most of the liquid is gone and the sugar is melted, take them off the heat…

 

…and spread them out on your non-stick foil or parchment paper. Whack ’em a little with your wooden spoon to separate them. Just let them cool (a word to the wise – DO NOT TASTE NOW – the sugar will stick to your tongue and burn it – somebody else told me that – I didn’t have to find out the hard way *I am such a liar*). When they are cool, hide them, they’re wonderful on their own and you need to save them for the salad!  Trust me!

When your onions look like this, take them off the heat and let them cool down.  You’ll want them room temperature. 

Now get out the spinach and some plates.  We’re making a salad! A spectacular fabulous salad!

Some pretty green baby spinach (or whatever you like)…

Some sugared walnuts…

Some caramelized onions…

Some gorgeous ripe red raspberries and yummy Gorgonzola cheese…

And finally, some of our wonderful raspberry vinaigrette. This is such a fresh tasty salad. I like to serve this with beef tenderloin or other heavier meals, because it complements the meal perfectly. It’s also great as a stand alone treat.

Here are the recipes you little chickadees!

Raspberry Vinaigrette

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard (or mustard of your choice)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and shake well before using. Making it a day or two ahead of time allows the flavors to develop, but it is very good immediately as well.

Carmelized Onions

  • 1 large sweet yellow onion
  • 1 quarter stick of butter

Directions:

  1. Slice the onion into thin slices.
  2. Melt the butter in a frying pan on medium heat.
  3. Add the slice onion and stir well to coat with butter.
  4. Continue cooking over low or medium low heat, letting the onions slowly turn brown.  This will take 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir occasionally.
  5. They will be a beautiful caramel color when done, and you can eat them warm, cold, or at room temperature.

Sugared Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 -1/4 cup whole or halved walnuts
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup water

Directions:

  1. Place a piece of non-stick foil or parchment paper on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan.
  2. Place walnuts in a frying pan over medium to medium high heat.
  3. Add sugar and water and stir to combine.
  4. Stir frequently until the water starts to boil and the sugar begins to melt.
  5. Turn heat to medium or medium low and stir as the water evaporates and the sugar begins to caramelize – it will stick to the walnuts.
  6. When the water is evaporated transfer the walnuts to the prepared pan and break up with the spoon.  Let cool completely.
  7. These can be chopped into smaller pieces if desired.

Raspberry Salad with Sugared Walnuts and Blue Cheese

Ingredients:

  • Baby spinach leaves or greens of your choice
  • Sugared walnuts
  • Caramelized onions
  • Crumbled Gorgonzola or blue cheese
  • Ripe raspberries
  • Raspberry vinaigrette

Directions:

Layer all ingredients as desired. I like to try to make sure I have about the same amount of raspberries, onions and walnuts so I can get a bit of each in every bite.

 




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