Butter Lettuce Salad with Honey Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Ver Jus Honey Vinaigrette

Butter Lettuce Salad with Honey Walnuts, Blue Cheese and Ver Jus Honey Vinaigrette

Ingredients

For the Honey Walnuts:

  • 2 1/2 cups California walnut halves or large pieces
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • Canola oil for deep frying

For the Ver Jus Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup ver jus
  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch of black pepper
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup olive oil

For the Salad:

  • 2 heads (about 10 ounces) butter lettuce, trimmed, cleaned, and torn into large pieces
  • Half of a large Granny Smith apple cut in fine julienne (matchstick-like strips)
  • 1/2 cup ver jus vinaigrette
  • 4 slices (1 ounce each) blue cheese
  • 4 tablespoons coarsely chopped honey walnuts
  • 12-16 California walnut halves, for garnish

Directions

  1. To make the honey walnuts, put the walnuts in a saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a boil, and drain. Cover again with water, bring to a boil, and drain. Add the sugar and honey to the saucepan with the drained walnuts, stir to combine, then add just enough water to cover the walnuts (about 1 cup). Bring to a boil again, and reduce heat to simmer until the liquid has reduced to a syrup-like consistency; it will also become darker, but don’t let it burn. This can take approximately 30 minutes. Drain the walnuts well, then spread on a plate. As they begin to cool, separate the walnuts so they do not stick together.
  2. In a heavy pan or deep fryer, heat about 2 inches of canola oil to 375ºF. Carefully immerse the walnuts into the oil, and fry for 1 1/2 minutes or until the nuts turn a light toasted color. Do this in three or four batches, if necessary, so the nuts are not crowded in the oil. As the nuts are done, spread them on a plate to cool (not on cloth or paper towels, as they might stick).
  3. To make the ver jus vinaigrette, combine the ver jus, shallot, salt, pepper and honey in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, and blend. With the machine still running slowly pour in the olive oil; the dressing will form a smooth emulsion. Transfer to a clean jar for storage.
  4. To assemble the salad, in a large bowl, toss the butter lettuce and apple together with the vinaigrette. Divide the dressed greens among 4 serving plates. Top each salad with a slice of blue cheese and 1 tablespoon honey walnuts, then garnish with a few walnut halves.