Arugula and Candied Walnut Salad

Arugula and Candied Walnut Salad 

Loretta is asleep, Wyatt is out playing out in the dirt while Yancey mows the lawn, and I get to sit down and write about food. If someone walked up to me right now and said, "You can go anywhere in the world," I think I'd stay right here.

My inbox has filled up several times in the last 24 hours with encouragements and exclamation points about this website.  It still feels like Christmas.  Thank you, thank you.  So much.  Especially, thank you Priya for designing such a beautiful forum for all our food obsessions.

This is the salad we ate last night with our Fear-Not Salmon.  Growing up, my mom made a salad almost every night for dinner, and I do the same.  If I keep washed greens in the fridge, I'm much more likely to throw one together.  Many nights, it's simply greens, some nuts, and dressing.  My menu plan just says "salad."  The contents are spontaneous and based on what's lurking around or about to go bad.  These grapes, for instance, wouldn't have been terribly delicious on their own. Once I picked through them and cut around a few soft spots, it was another successful Search and Rescue Mission.

I've seen lots of complicated recipes for sugared nuts involving inches of peanut oil and candy thermometers. I've never tried those because I do it this easy way.  You can use this method for almost any nuts.  One of my favorites is slivered almonds for the top of cabbage or chicken salads.  The important thing is that you watch them very closely as the sugar starts to melt.  You can go from beautifully shiny to piece of charcoal in a few seconds.

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And the reason this dressing came about is because 1) I have lemons coming out my ears at the moment so won't be using much vinegar this week and 2) I already had the brown sugar out for the salmon.

P.S. Loretta has just woken up uncharacteristically early, probably due to the weed whacking outside.  Now, if you asked me, I might take that escapist trip to Tahiti.

Arugula and Candied Walnut Salad
(vary amounts according to how many people will be eating it)
Bowl of arugula and spinach (or romaine or combination)
Red grapes, washed and halved
Crumbled feta (or chevre or blue cheese)
Finely grated zest of one lemon (there's those lemons again)
Candied walnuts (see below)

For dressing:  juice one lemon.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir in 1 Tb. brown sugar and whisk in 2 or 3 Tb. olive oil.  This will make enough for a generous salad for two.  Double for more.

Unless I specify otherwise, the way I assemble my salads is thus:  put greens in a bowl, arrange other ingredients on top, and pour the dressing at the table right before eating.  Much prettier and easier than trying to toss it and all the good stuff just ending up at the bottom anyway.

Candied Walnuts
I c. walnuts (preferably toasted already, but not totally necessary)
1/4 c. sugar
salt
1 Tb. butter

Melt butter in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Add walnuts, salt, and sugar, turn heat up a tiny bit, and leave alone for a minute or two until sugar starts to melt.  Stir to make sure all nuts are coated, watching very carefully.  Once the nuts start to darken in color a little bit and all the sugar has melted, remove from heat and dump nuts onto a piece of parchment paper or foil.  If they're all stuck together, don't worry.  Just break them apart after they have cooled.