Arugula Salad with Aged Gouda, Savory Praline, and Mustard Dressing

This is a guests are coming for dinner salad, fancier and more labor intensive than most, but the extra effort really pays off. My husband, the salad hater, scarfed it down so enthusiastically that I added extra arugula to the recipe to stretch it. All the parts can be made ahead, Just toss them together at the last moment.

I tend to prefer so-called bitter greens like arugula to milder ones like romaine and Boston lettuce—but if you don’t, just substitute the lettuce of your choice.

Serves 6

For the praline:
1/3 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or more to taste
3 tablespoons sugar

For the dressing:
1/2 teaspoon grainy Dijon dressing
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For the salad:
8 cups loosely packed arugula
3/4 cup coarsely grated aged Gouda, Manchego, Asiago, or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/3 cup dried cranberries

To make the praline, lightly oil a large baking sheet. Toss the pecans with the salt and cayenne in a small bowl. Place the sugar in a heavy skillet or saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring gently, until the sugar starts to melt. Stop stirring and continue cooking, swirling the skillet or pan often, until the sugar cooks to a dark golden caramel. Add the pecan mixture and carefully stir to coat the nuts with caramel. Pour onto the baking sheet and spread evenly with a knife. Cool completely. Crack the praline into pieces, then finely chop on a cutting board.

To prepare the dressing, whisk the mustard, vinegar, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to form a smooth dressing.

Arrange the arugula in the center of a large serving bowl. Sprinkle on the cheese, cranberries, and praline. Toss with just enough of the dressing to thoroughly coat the leaves.
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4 Responses to Arugula Salad with Aged Gouda, Savory Praline, and Mustard Dressing

  1. Linda Stoddard says:

    what an impressive salad. I even have all the ingredients but wouldn’t have thought to combine them this way. Well, this certainly answers the question of how to impress guests at dinner later. All credit will, of course, go to you. I am really taken by ‘Sara’s Weeknight Meals.’ It really is above and beyond what is offered by other cooking shows. Thank you so much! Linda

  2. Lisa Berardino says:

    Anything that says “praline” gets my vote !

  3. Chicken says:

    This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger. I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your fantastic post. Also, I have shared your site in my social networks!

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