Wednesday, 21 August 2013

A Summer Dinner Party: Caramelised Walnut, Goat's Cheese and Orange Salad, with Sourdough Croutons

What to have at a dinner party when it's really hot - and you don't really feel like standing in a sweltering kitchen? Salad. It's the obvious answer, perhaps, but it can be tricky finding a salad that's enough to constitute a full main course! This one, however, I have tried out on three hungry men and they all seemed to approve...although this time I cooked it for my two sisters-in-law and a female cousin-in-law. One of the sisters-in-law is a professional chef so I was a little intimidated, but she left saying she was inspired by it, so I'm taking that as a compliment! I found the recipe on a snippet from a magazine I'd cut out ages ago, and have amended it slightly.

It might not be the prettiest...but it is totally delicious!

What makes it so lovely is the combination of crunchy sourdough and the tangy goat's cheese along with sweetness of the walnuts and summery-ness of the orange. This recipe does involve a little cooking, but it's so easy and low maintenance that it's totally bearable in the summer heat...

Ingredients - enough to feed 6

  • 100g walnut halves
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey
  • 4 thick slices of sourdough bread, cut into crouton sized cubes
  • 2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 10 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 medium sized oranges
  • 400g salad leaves
  • 250g goat's cheese, cubed
Heat oven to 200C.

1. Peel the oranges using a small sharp knife and cut them in to small segments. Transfer any juice that collects on the chopping board during this process into a small pan - this will form the basis of the salad dressing later!

2. Mix the walnuts with two tablespoons of the honey, and then spread them out on a baking tray covered with greaseproof paper - or alternatively, put them on a silicone baking sheet. In the pictures below I experimented with using foil, but it didn't work brilliantly!
3. Also place the sourdough bread cubes on a baking tray / in a roasting tin and drizzle a little olive oil over.
4. Place both trays into the oven for 15 minutes, checking them half way and turning the trays to make sure that the walnuts and bread are evenly browned.
Click to enlarge.

5. While the walnuts and sourdough bread are in the oven, prepare the dressing. Add the remaining honey, mustard, vinegar and oil to the pan with the orange juice. Stir, heat slowly and season.

6. Assemble the salad. Put the salad leaves in a large bowl and add the orange slices, sourdough croutons, goat's cheese and walnuts. Toss gently with the salad dressing.

Tip: if the walnut halves are too tricky to remove from the tray, place them back in the oven for a minute to soften the honey slightly.

We followed the salad with the raspberry baked cheesecake I've posted about before. I don't often repeat recipes so quickly, but the husband requested it! This time, I made it in a slightly bigger tin (although using the same quantities as in the posted recipes), left it in a little longer (I forgot...!) and dressed it up a bit...

I'm cooking for another dinner party tonight (got to make the most of the dying days of the summer holidays!), but something totally different: chocolate chilli chicken followed by lime souffles: check back later to see those recipes!

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