Blueberry Salad

Once again, Passarelle Bistro in Greenville, SC hit a home run clear across the Reedy Falls. Their salad combined fresh and healthy with comfort food: designer greens, blueberry vinaigrette, fresh blueberries, candied walnuts, and blueberry jam-goat cheese “croutons” wrapped in phyllo and baked until they were all melty and gooey inside and crispy on the outside. Actually, it was more than a home run, it was a grand slam of culinary fabulousness.

Sneak peek inside the blueberry crouton.

So. Here’s how it can be made at home (because some of us live on the other side of the country). Yes, there are five components to this salad, but with the exception of the greens and blueberries, everything can be made ahead, making it a great party dish.

Blueberry vinaigrette: You’ll need 1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil, 1/2 c. blueberry vinegar (raspberry vinegar works, too), 2 t. prepared mustard, 1 t. salt, 1 t. black pepper, 1/4 t. sugar, and 2-3 T. chopped fresh parsley. Whisk all ingredients together in a bowl, taste and adjust seasonings, cover, and chill until ready to use; will keep in refrigerator for 4-5 days; allow to come to room temperature before using, and whisk again. Depending on your preference, you may have extra – lucky you!

Candied walnuts right out of the oven.

Candied walnuts: Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large bowl, whisk 1 large egg white, 1 T. water, 2 t. vanilla, and 1/4 t. salt. Add 1 lb. walnut halves, and stir until all the walnuts are coated with the egg white mixture. Add 2/3 c. sugar to egg-white-coated walnuts and stir until the walnuts are also covered with sugar. Line a large baking pan with foil and spread coated walnuts on the pan. Bake the walnuts for about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 mins until walnuts are lightly browned. allow walnuts to cool, then break apart, and store in a covered container. The walnuts will keep in a covered container for several weeks; you will definitely have extra – but that’s a good thing!

Blueberry jam-goat cheese croutons: You’ll need 1/2 lb. frozen phyllo dough (that you will need to defrost overnight in the refrigerator), 1 – 10.5 oz log plain goat cheese, 1 c. blueberry jam (Bonne Maman or Stonewall Kitchen are good options), and 1/2 – 1 c. melted butter.

Work with 1 sheet of phyllo at a time (cover the remaining phyllo with wax paper and a slightly damp paper towel on top of the wax paper), and orient the sheet so it is “landscape” on a cutting board (or your work surface). Cut the sheet with a very sharp knife so that you have 3 pieces of phyllo, each measuring about 4-5″ x 9″.

Gently brush each sheet with melted butter.

Near the edge closest to you, center a small “finger” of goat cheese (about 2-3 t.) and a small dollop of jam (about 1-2 t.) on the phyllo piece.

Gently roll the phyllo over the goat cheese-jam, like a little log.

Carefully fold the sides of the phyllo piece over the finger of goat cheese-jam, and continue rolling – like a little burrito.

Seal the outer edge of phyllo with a very small amount of melted butter and place the crouton-burrito on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

Repeat this rolling process about 53 more times, for a possible total of 54 croutons. The croutons can be frozen at this point; freeze them initially on the baking sheet about 2 hours until very hard, then carefully pack in a gallon-size ziploc freezer bag and return to the freezer until you need them; they will keep frozen for 5-6 weeks or longer. They can also be baked as soon as you roll them: bake them in a preheated 350 F oven for about 10 mins. or until golden brown. To bake them from the freezer, do not defrost them but bake them frozen, also in a 350 F oven but for 20-30 mins.

Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for! To assemble the salad, place about 8 oz. of fresh, washed designer greens (or arugula) in a large bowl. Add about 2-3 c. fresh, washed and dried blueberries. Add enough blueberry vinaigrette just to barely moisten the greens, and stir gently. Then add 1-2 c. candied walnuts and mix them in gently also. Place the freshly baked croutons around the edge of the salad bowl and serve immediately.

Bon appetit! And merci beaucoup to Passarelle Bistro!

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