The salad calls for herb salad mix, which can be found prebagged in the supermarket, or use any combination of lettuces and herbs. Any fresh cherry or berry (blackberries, blueberries, etc.) will do nicely. The dressing and caramelized walnuts can be made a day ahead (store the nuts in an airtight container and the dressing in the refrigerator).
Cooking Light JUNE 2005
To prepare nuts, place sugar in a small skillet over medium heat; cook 90 seconds or until sugar dissolves, stirring as needed so sugar dissolves evenly and doesn't burn. Reduce heat; stir in walnuts. Cook over low heat 30 seconds or until golden. Spread mixture onto foil coated with cooking spray. Cool completely; break into small pieces.
To prepare dressing, place cider in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; bring to a boil. Cook until reduced to 2 tablespoons (about 5 minutes). Combine water and cornstarch in a small bowl; add to pan. Bring cider mixture to a boil, stirring constantly; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Stir in shallots, vinegar, salt, and pepper; let cool.
To prepare salad, place salad mix in a large bowl. Drizzle with dressing; toss gently to coat. Divide evenly among 4 plates; top with berries, cheese, and walnuts. Serve immediately.
Wine note: This market salad is a kaleidoscope of bold flavors and compelling textures, from the berries to the caramelized walnuts to the crumbled blue cheese. It needs a powerhouse of a wine to match it all: Walla Walla Village Gewürztraminer 2003 (Walla Walla, Washington; $16). It's sassy with bright tropical fruit flavors (a great counterpoint to the saltiness of the cheese), a citrusy edge, and loads of spice. -Karen MacNeil
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