Arugula salad with thyme-toasted walnuts [Vegetarian]
Toasted walnuts. Enough said.
Well, almost enough. These aren't just any toasted walnuts. A drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves are added into the pan with the walnuts and that combination, paired with the bite of arugula makes a fantastic simple, healthy salad.
Also, you could easily leave off the cheese for a vegan version, and add in sliced pears, peaches or other fruits to add some sweetness. There are so many ways to customize this thanks to the wonderful flavor of these thyme-toasted walnuts.
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There is a local small cheese producer Monforte Dairy, which regularly has a table at our farmers' market. I often buy a goat cheese from them that has a ash rind. The cheese starts out firm and as it ripens it gets softer, so if you leave it long enough you have a bit of a gooey mess, which is just they way I like it. When I was buying a piece of it the other day, the young woman at the table suggested I try a fresh sheep's milk cheese. She said you could use it in the same way you would a bufala mozzarella. What a revelation it was, tangy, tart and absolutely delicious.It's worth the effort to seek out local cheesemakers at farmers' markets and try what they have, or go to your cheesemonger and encourage them to buy cheese from local cheesemakers. Quebec has perhaps a longer tradition of cheesemaking in Canada but the number of fantastic producers in Ontario and British Columbia is growing rapidly. These cheesemakers usually produce small batches with milk from local sources and made with a lot of care and personal attention and the results are wonderful.
I made this arugula salad as an accompaniment to a rich pasta with chanterelles. We seem to be done with lettuce for the year, but they still had arugula (otherwise known as rocket) at the farmers' market. I added just enough cheese to the salad to make the flavour pop out. You could use either goat or sheep's milk cheese for this. If you want a vegan recipe, use olives rather than cheese. This served two of us, but you can easily increase the amounts for more people.
The salad dressing recipe is from New Food Fast by Donna Hay.
Arugula and Walnut Salad
1/2 head of arugula
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup walnuts
2 or 3 sprigs of thyme or rosemary
lemon juice to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 oz. fresh sheep's milk cheese or goat cheese
2 oz. olives (optional)
1. In a small skillet over a low heat, place the olive oil, walnuts and herbs. Leave to heat for several minutes allowing the flavours to infuse the oil. Make sure it isn't too hot or the walnuts will burn.
2. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the arugula and add the cheese and serve immediately before it wilts.