The perfect salad for a winter gathering.

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Credit: Peter Frank Edwards; Prop Styling and Floral Design: Sara York Grimshaw

Recipe Summary test

active:
15 mins
toast:
20 mins
cool:
15 mins
total:
50 mins
Servings:
6
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When it comes to Christmas Eve dinner, chef Mike Lata insists that planning is everything. "We don't just dream up these meals," he says. "We give a lot of thought to organizing, because who wants to be in the weeds at home?" Owner and culinary force behind FIG and The Ordinary restaurants in Charleston, South Carolina, Mike Lata and his wife Jenni Ridall devote plenty of time to engineering the perfect menu for the special occasion. From Lowcountry Fish Stew to Oven-Roasted Oysters with Mushrooms and Watercress, their smart, seasonal menu is designed with plenty of do-ahead components.

This Winter Greens Salad with Creamy Walnut Vinaigrette will be the sleeper hit at your Christmas eve dinner. This is not your everyday bowl of kale: Lata's winter salad makes use of colorful, hearty winter greens, such as escarole, radicchio, or endive. "The nice thing about heartier winter greens is that they hold up after they've been dressed," Lata says. Since these winter greens pack a lot of flavor on their own, they only require a few herbs and a rich vinaigrette to get all dressed up. "I'm a huge fan of mint. You can get it year-round, and it makes the salad taste alive and fresh," Lata notes. In addition to mint, Lata adds parsley to this salad. But it's the dressing that makes this salad feel truly special. Blending toasted walnuts into canola oil, then using the infused oil as the base for the dressing results in a nutty, supremely rich walnut vinaigrette that really takes this salad over the top.

Ingredients

Ingredient Checklist

Directions

Instructions Checklist
  • Preheat oven to 300°F. Spread walnuts in an even layer on a baking sheet; toast in oven until golden and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven; cool about 15 minutes. Combine canola oil and ¼ cup of the cooled walnuts in a blender; pulse until well incorporated (a few chunks are fine), 4 to 5 times. Set aside. 

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  • Whisk together shallot, sherry vinegar, mayonnaise, water, and Dijon mustard in a medium bowl until well combined. Slowly whisk in walnut-canola oil mixture until emulsified. Season with salt and pepper. 

  • Combine hearty greens, parsley, and mint in a large mixing bowl. Add ½ cup of the vinaigrette; toss to combine. Mound salad into a serving bowl; drizzle with remaining ¼ cup vinaigrette. Top with pecorino and reserved walnuts.

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