The time has arrived. We had our first salad with fresh greens from our very own garden! My beloved spring is finally here and that means delicious salads until it gets too hot that everything wilts or we eat it all first. This makes suffering through this past winter, Polar Vortex and all, completely worth it!
Last year our garden was miserable. We had absolutely no zucchini. How does that happen, we usually have way too much?! The tomatoes were slim, no cucumbers…just a horrible year. We did, however, how TONS of lettuces. Mixed greens, arugula, spinach and more. We ate salads for a very long time. The boys ate lettuce straight out of the garden. We had so much I was giving it away to friends and family.
It was a tough choice, what should we do with our first garden fresh lettuce? Stick with a tried and true recipe or try something new? In the end I couldn’t resist going for what I would say is our favorite salad. Granted, it is difficult to pick a favorite, so maybe I should say this is in the top two or three salads.
This is a recipe I cannot take credit for. Many years ago, February 2001 to be exact, I took a two day culinary class at The Biltmore Estate with my mom. We had a wonderful time and learned so much. One of the recipes they presented to was this salad. I have made only a couple changes since it was already so incredibly wonderful. Honey sweetened caramelized red onions with golden raisins and red wine make a heavenly vinaigrette. Top it off with salty, crispy bacon, flavorful blue cheese, croutons and caramelized onions. What isn’t to love? I hope you enjoy this as much as we do!
Slightly adapted from a Biltmore Estate Kitchens recipe
Mixed Greens with Caramelized Onion Vinaigrette
4 cups mixed greens
4 slices applewood smoked bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/3 c. blue cheese crumbles
1/2 – 1 c. croutons
1/2 c. caramelized onion vinaigrette
For the Vinaigrette
2 Tbs. butter
2 c. red onion, sliced into rings (one medium to large onion)
2 oz. dry red wine
1 oz. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. golden raisins, plumped in hot water
2 Tbs. honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
2/3 c. canola oil
Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onions and cook for one minute. Deglaze the pan with the wine and vinegar, stirring the onions until combined. Add the raisins, honey, salt and pepper. Cook on medium low heat until most of the liquid has reduced.
Set aside about 1/4 cup of the onion mixture. Place the rest in a food processor or blender and puree. Add 1/3 cup of red wine vinegar and then drizzle in the oil, processing until combined. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. If you like, feel free to add a little more red wine vinegar. Please note this vinaigrette is thick.
To make the salad toss the greens with about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette. Place the greens on four plates. Build the salad up by adding the bacon, blue cheese and croutons on top. Finally place a couple of the caramelized onions on top.
Yields 4 servings