Sunday, June 12, 2011

North Meets South Salad

On our return trip from Florida we picked up some peaches and pecans in Georgia.  Which I decided to use in my venison salad this past week and the results were DELICIOUS!  My husband suggested I call it the "North South Salad" and I thought that was a pretty good name - better than my "Georgia Salad" idea.  The venison is from Northwestern WI where Ryan got his buck last year, the cheese is from Northeastern WI and the salad greens were from our Madison CSA which married well with the fresh Georgia peaches and pecans.  The salad dressing is a re-vamp of an old favorite from my Uncle Mike, he called it Italian Dressing, but it is not anything like the Italian dressing you buy in the store.  The original was a bit too sweet, I decided to try agave instead of sugar - and the result was fantastic.  We've used this dressing a lot recently with pears instead of peaches and I've used fresh plums and chicken in the past as other options.  Most of the time I don't blend dressings, I just shake or stir them up before using, but I found that this dressing worked much better when blended.  You will still need to shake it up before you use it though as some of the vinegar tends to settle on the bottom.

North South Salad

Balsamic Dressing
2 Crushed garlic cloves
1 oz Lemon juice (preferably freshly squeezed)
1 oz Seasoned rice vinegar
2 oz Balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp each of salt and freshly ground pepper
Honey to taste (about 1 oz)
6 oz Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Combine all ingredients (minus olive oil) in a blender.  With the blender running, add the olive oil in a continuous stream until all ingredients are fully combined.  Move dressing to a pourable container.   Store in refrigerator and bring to room temperature before use (about 15 minutes).

Salad Ingredients
2 or 3 Firm Peaches*
6-8 oz Venison or beef* (optional)
Grill Seasoning of choice for meat
Cucumber and/or sweet peppers
Toasted pecans
Gorgonzola* cheese (preferably in a wedge)
Spinach and/or mixed greens

Wash and dry your mixed greens and toast your pecans - you can do this in a dry pan on top of the stove or in the oven at 350 degrees for 6-8 minutes, until fragrant and darker brown.  For this salad I decided to throw the peaches on the grill (giving them a nice coating of oil so they wouldn't stick) alongside the venison and I was glad I did.  Grill your meat to taste and slice thin after allowing to cool.  To assemble your salad place greens in the bottom of the bowl, add chopped veggies, arrange grilled and sliced peaches on top, lay grilled meat on top of that and sprinkle with toasted nuts and crumbled Gorgonzola cheese.  Drizzle dressing over salad and dinner is ready!

My notes:  Pears and plums also go well with this dressing and along with the other salad accompaniments.  Chicken could also replace the venison or beef if you prefer.  I'm not a huge Bleu cheese fan, but if you like it that would be another option instead of the Gorgonzola.

For a printable version of this recipe (without photos) click here.

What's your favorite salad combination?

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