With arugula sprouting up in my garden faster than I can caress my tomato plants (who apparently like that sort of thing) this salad has become a faithful and fast dinner these days. With a supply of candied walnuts and a block of stinky cheese, the sixth taste, “umami” is never too far away to meet a craving that goes beyond the everyday. And even better, some health gurus claim that the more tastes you can meet in one meal, the more likely you are to feel satisfied.
Take this salad, one of my favorites. Sure it’s a little salty, a little bitter, and a little sweet. But its main star power is in its combination of big, bold flavors I have trouble describing the marriage of. So umami it is. Peppery, nutty, hearty deliciousness that is perfect for these hot summer days when we live on salad and then listen to our bodies thank us profusely.
Arugula Salad with Blue Cheese and Candied Pecans
vary the amounts of each ingredient to suit your tastes
a generous bowlful of arugula and spinach leaves
diced Bartlett pear, firm but gently yielding, not overripe
a sprinkling of candied pecans (recipe to follow)
crumbled blue cheese
optional additions: dried cranberries, alfalfa sprouts
Dressing: anything light and vinaigrette-y will work here (see the bottom of this post) or combine apple cider vinegar with olive oil, a splash of honey, fresh lemon juice, a few teaspoons of dijon mustard, and a crushed garlic clove. Balsamic vinegar and olive oil also work well in a pinch. Experiment, or find a light and mild commercial vinaigrette.
1 lb pecans
1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
3 cups boiling water
splash soy or tamari sauce
- Add nuts to boiling water, stir and return to a full boil.
- Drain nuts and mix with icing sugar, salt, cayenne and soy sauce in a medium mixing bowl (mixture will be sticky).
- Spread out on a lightly greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 20-35 minutes or until dry and crunchy. Also good on ice cream.