Garden Greens: New Meaning

Joy upon Joy! May I present this exclusive unveiling and documented proof of a recent class project: my first-ever Salad Garden. I’m so proud of tender Butter Crunch lettuce and gloriously beautiful meslcun blend.

As the summer continues to unfold and various produce develops and matures, I suspect future blogs will bear witness and feature other members of my charming garden community.

I am still very new to the garden realm and thoroughly enjoy fussing over my charges – I actually look forward to the weeding and watering routine! I still haven’t gotten over the newness of having a salad conveniently planted right outside my back door – ready and waiting for me to pluck each lovely leaf at its prime. Now, I spend considerable time conjuring up new salads that will take advantage of my latest harvest.

A recent salad proved so successful I have made it several times since. It incorporates prime Oregon staples: hazelnuts and Rogue Creamery’s Oregonzola Cheese. This award winning gorgonzola is aged at least 120 days and is a stellar combination with the raspberries featured in this salad. The Raspberry Vinaigrette includes reduced raspberry vinegar, a process which intensifies the fruit flavor and provides the perfect counterpoint to the gorgonzola, mizuna and mâche lettuces.

I also have taken a great suggestion from Judy Rodgers of Zuni Café fame, and find that slightly warming the cheese makes a huge difference in the final outcome.

Raspberry, Hazelnuts, and Gorgonzola Garden Salad

Raspberry Vinaigrette
1/2 cup raspberry vinegar
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey, or to taste
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil

8 cups mixed baby lettuce greens, washed, drained and chilled
1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried
1/2 cup hazelnuts, roasted in dry pan til aromatic, about 5 minutes
3 ounces gorgonzola cheese, sliced thickly
fresh organic flowers or herbs such as mint, for garni

For dressing: In small pan, reduce vinegar to about 3 Tbsp., and allow to cool in a small bowl. When cool, whisk in dijon, honey, salt and pepper; slowly add the olive oil to form an emulsion. Adjust flavors and set aside.

For salad: In a 200 degree oven, place the cheese wedges on a parchment lined sheet and heat approximately 5 minutes or until slightly soft and shiny.
Meanwhile, in salad bowl, toss lettuce with enough dressing to lightly coat leaves. Add the nuts and raspberries and toss gently. Place salad on individual plates, add a wedge of cheese, garnish with flowers or herbs. Pass additional dressing as desired. Serves 4 ~~

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