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Watercress-Gorgonzola Salad with Spiced Walnuts

Watercress-Gorgonzola Salad with Spiced WalnutsA simple, yet elegant first course or side salad of watercress and romaine lettuces, crumbled gorgonzola cheese, spicy candied walnuts, dried cranberries and julienned red onion tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette and garnished with a decorative drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction. Recipe by Chefs Frank Randazzo and Andrea Curto-Randazzo.

Recipe Ingredients:

Spiced Walnuts:
1/3 cup walnuts (halves and pieces)
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar - divided use
1 bunch watercress, rinsed, dried and stems removed
1/2 head romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut into 1/2-inch strips
1/2 cup (3 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
1/4 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons julienned red onion
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt, to taste
Freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Cooking Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. For Spiced Walnuts: Place the walnuts on a baking sheet and toast lightly, about 5 minutes. Remove to a bowl and toss with the cayenne pepper and maple syrup. Return the coated nuts to the baking sheet. Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the walnuts to oiled wax paper to cool.
  3. For Salad: Bring 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil in a small saucepan. Simmer to reduce the liquid by two-thirds, and remove from the heat. Set aside to cool.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the remaining ingredients, including the remaining 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
  5. Divide the salad among six plates. Drizzle the reserved reduced balsamic vinegar around the plates.
  6. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Recipe and photograph courtesy of Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.