Monday, June 08, 2009

Works Every Time

We don't belong to the neighborhood pool - but last night might have changed everything.

Our entire street disappears each and every summer night and retires to the aforementioned pool armed with coolers of meat, red & white 'grape juice', and all the fixings for a cookout, so we happily tagged along yesterday, one of the few perfect summer evenings we've had recently.

They have quite the routine and our normally tame neighbors are known for shutting the 'house' down, refusing to leave until the waning moments of the night (read: on an otherwise quiet night, the lifeguards have no chance of slipping out early with these party animals around).

Although the grill was piled high with pork tenderloin, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and the obligatory hot dogs, it turns out that something green doesn't usually make the menu so I was happy to oblige, especially once I realized that I had all the ingredients for our very favorite green salad AND I remembered to dig up this fun out-door serving bowl that we received as a gift some years ago, just waiting to be taken poolside. I'm not sure which actually made me happier - being asked and able to contribute, using a serving piece that had gone otherwise unnoticed, or that the lightly coated greens
hidden in this tropically-decorated bowl were an absolute hit.

The only complication is that apparently this pool is quite popular (which we can attest to after seeing the crowds there last night); another family we know tried to jump on the pool membership bandwagon only to be out-bid on the membership fees! To a neighborhood pool?! So, knowing that we may have a long road ahead of us, I plan on making this salad in an attempt at bribery, as many times as it takes - and I'm confident 'she's' up to the task!

Pear and Walnut Green Salad
serves 4-6

2 TBSP butter
1/2 c chopped walnuts
3 TBSP brown sugar
mixed salad greens (such as romaine, leaf or Boston)
1 firm ripe pear
3 scallions, chopped
3-4 oz crumbled blue cheese

To prepare walnuts, melt butter in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add walnuts and brown sugar. Saute until nuts begin to soften. Remove from pan to cool. Wash lettuce and tear into bite-size pieces and place in large bowl. At serving time, core pear and cut into pieces. Toss lettuce, pear, scallions, walnuts and cheese with Balsamic Vinaigrette.

Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 TBSP sugar
1 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
3 TBSP balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 clove garlic, crushed
3/4 c olive oil

Combine dry mustard, seasoned salt and pepper in small bowl. Stir in vinegar, sugar, onion powder and garlic. Let stand at least 1 hour. Just before serving, pour through a strainer into a small bowl to remove garlic. Beat in olive oil with whisk. Pour over salad and toss. Can be made ahead; store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature and whisk 30 minutes prior to serving.

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