Well ladies and gents, it’s almost Valentine’s Day! If you might be cooking for your special someone, this would make a fabulous salad course. It’s sexy, warm, and inviting with a sensational layering of flavors including balsamic vinegar, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, brown sugar, garlic (yes, garlic!), and pine nuts. Pine nuts just happen to be an aphrodisiac – ahem – and who knew. Choose whatever greens you prefer – I used a mixture of a salad blend with herbs along with the more tender inside leaves of a head of escarole, and balanced the bitter of the escarole with sweet Boston lettuce. The escarole stands up really well to the warm vinaigrette and is a welcome green in the winter months especially. Just one note – stand back when you add the vinegars to the pan because the fumes will go straight up your nose and knock you out for a second or two.
Much thanks goes out to my friend Nancy Nicosia for this recipe – my then-husband and I had dinner at her house and she made this. Definitely swoon-worthy. Enjoy!
Swoon Winter Salad with Pine Nuts and Sizzling Warm Vinagrette
- Mixed salad greens (I used a combination of 6 cups herb salad blend, 1-2 cups inner escarole leaves, and 3 cups Boston lettuce)
- ½ cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry, non-stick pan
- ¾-1 cup shredded or 2/3 cup shaved Parmigiano Reggiano or Parmesan cheese (reserve a handful for garnish)
- 4 scallions, sliced thinly
- 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- coarse ground black pepper
- Assemble the salad ingredients in a bowl and set aside.
- Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the garlic. Let is sizzle but take care it doesn’t burn, about 1 minute.
- Add both vinegars (and step back!). Turn up the heat for 30 seconds and then add the brown sugar. Return to medium-high heat and whisk continuously until the mixture is slightly reduced. Let it bubble away but again taking care to not let it burn.
- Remove the mixture from the heat and test for the desired balance of tart and sweet. Put it back on the heat and add more brown sugar, oil, or vinegars if needed and the mixture is the consistency of syrup.
- Season with black pepper and pour over the salad ingredients. Garnish with additional shavings or shredded Parmesan cheese and serve.
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