This is currently my favorite salad. I haven’t given quantities, because it’s a frickin’ salad. Use your eyes, and taste for balance and seasoning.
- Salad greens; preferably a mix of baby spinach and bitter greens
- Gorgonzola cheese or similar blue cheese, crumbled
- Dried cherries or mixed berries
- Bourbon or wine (optional)
- Pecans, broken up if whole
- Duck confit, reheated, meat shredded; 1 leg per 2 servings (optional, but takes the salad to another level, suitable as a light main course)
- Toasted sesame oil (This is the secret ingredient. You might be able to substitute a flavorful nut oil, but do not substitute a neutral oil or olive oil.)
- Red wine vinegar
- Thyme (dried or fresh)
- Black pepper
- About 30-60 minutes in advance, reconstitute the dried fruit by covering them with water, or a 50-50 mixture of water with bourbon or wine.
- Drain the fruit after 30-60 minutes has elapsed.
- Prepare the dressing. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, pour a couple of ounces of vinegar. Add salt, pepper, thyme. If you want an emulsified dressing (I usually don’t bother), adding a bit of mustard at this stage will help.
- Add toasted sesame oil, starting with an amount similar to the vinegar. Mix and taste for balance and seasoning. The dressing should be tart, and nutty from the oil. Adjust vinegar, oil, and seasonings if necessary. If desired, emulsify with a whisk or blender.
- In a large bowl, dress the greens. Start with less dressing than you think it will take; use just enough the moisten the leaves without pooling. Taste dressed leaves and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Plate salads, starting with dressed greens, and adding duck meat (if using), gorgonzola, pecans, and fruit on top.
Pinot Noir complements the dried fruit, especially cherries, and also pairs well with the duck confit.