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In her fine little article about “Walnuts”, the English food writer Jane Grigson coined a memorable phrase to describe how memories are well-kept.  She used it with regard to Eliza Acton…(1799 – 1859, the author of one of England’s first cookbooks for the home cook)…and the way Miss Acton wrote about French cuisine.  Miss Acton is supposed to have fallen in love with a Frenchman to whom she was briefly and unhappily engaged.  That romance, in Mrs. Grigson’s view, coloured the way Miss Acton understood French cooking, tinging her writing about it with romance and “an unembittered nostalgia”.

“An unembittered nostalgia” seems a nice way of phrasing how to remember the old as one turns to the new.  Here is a fresh and interesting salad to celebrate a brand new year of unimaginable and exciting possibilities.

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Salad of Romaine, Apples and Cucumber with Walnut Bread Croutons and Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette (for 6 people, easily adjusted to serve 2 or 4 based on the amounts given below for 6 servings)

Note:  To print this recipe, or any other diplomatickitchen recipe, go to the bottom of the page, at the end of the post, and click on the icon: Print & PDF. You will have the option of printing in smaller text size and without photos.

A Timing Note:  The walnuts and bread cubes for the croutons need time to cool after they are toasted.  The vinaigrette may be made several hours in advance, set aside at room temperature and then tossed with the salad before serving.  Or, the vinaigrette may be made a day in advance, refrigerated and brought to room temperature before it is used.

Part I:  The Salad

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Ingredients:

  • Romaine Lettuce, cut in bite-sized pieces (1 cup per person)
  • Apple, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces: Use 1 whole apple for 6 servings.
  • 1 teaspoon of Cider Vinegar
  • Cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut into bite-sized pieces:  1 cup for 6 servings
  • 1/8 cup of chopped, Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • 1 cup of Walnut Bread cut into small cubes to make Croutons:  The recipe for the Walnut Bread is here in a previous diplomatickitchen post.
  • Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette:  The recipe is below in Part II.
  • Optional garnishes:  1/8 cup of chopped Toasted Walnuts (in addition to the Toasted Walnuts used to make the vinaigrette) and some Pomegranate Seeds

Equipment:

  • a Pan in which to toast the bread cubes and walnuts
  • a small Bowl for the apple cubes
  • a Salad Bowl

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Place the cubes of bread in a single layer in the baking pan and the 1/8 cup of walnuts for the salad garnish plus 1/4 cup of walnuts to use in making the vinaigrette described below in Part II.  Toast the bread cubes and walnuts together at the same time until both are golden–in, perhaps, 8 – 10 minutes.  Check them from time to time as they toast to ensure that they don’t burn.  When both are well-toasted, transfer them to a plate and cool them completely.  Chop 1/8 cup of the walnuts for the garnish.  Use the rest for the vinaigrette.

2.  Peel and cube the apple.  Place the cubes in a small bowl and sprinkle them with 1 teaspoon of cider vinegar.

3.  In the salad bowl, combine the romaine, apple, cucumber and parsley.

4.  Just before serving, toss the salad with the vinaigrette.  Mix in the croutons.

5.  Divide the salad among plates or bowls and garnish each with a few chopped, toasted walnuts and some pomegranate seeds.

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Part II:  Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of Sunflower Oil or any other Vegetable Oil that you like
  • 4 teaspoons of Cider Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup of grated Fresh Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup of toasted Walnuts,
  • 1 Tablespoon of Water

Equipment:

  • a Food Processor or Blender

1.  In the processor or blender place the oil, vinegar, Parmesan and toasted walnuts and mix them very well.

2.  Add the Tablespoon of water and mix again.

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A Note:  Salad of Romaine, Apples and Cucumber with Walnut Bread Croutons and Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette is the Salad Course of the Dinner Menu:  New Year’s Celebration for the Romantic, the Introvert, the Homebody ~ a Dinner for 2, 4, or 6.  

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A Second Note:  The complete text of the 1868 edition of Miss Acton’s interesting and readable work Modern Cookery, for Private Families is available here at Google Books.

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An Invitation: You are invited to request suggestions from the diplomatickitchen for your own menus for any occasion by clicking on the feature ‘Ask and Tell’ here or in the Menu at the top of the page. Do you have a menu concept with a gap or two that wants filling…or perhaps you are an expat looking for ways to adapt your recipes to what is available in your temporary home…maybe you are just looking for a new way to use a familiar ingredient or would like suggestions on how to adjust quantities of a recipe from the diplomatickitchen for smaller or larger groups…Replies will be published in ‘Ask and Tell’ or sent by email if you prefer.

© Elizabeth Laeuchli, the diplomatickitchen, 2011-2012

 

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