Meera’s Arugula, Feta, Cherry, and Toasted Almond Salad

If you need to bring a side or a salad to a Labor Day Weekend fête, I’ve got just the one.

This salad is quick, colorful, and delicious with the added bonus that it could easily become dinner with the addition of sliced grilled chicken. The first time I had it, on the weekend of the eclipse, my good friend, and relative, Meera Ballal, brought all the ingredients over in a Trader Joe’s grocery sack. By the time the chicken was grilled, the salad was assembled and on the table. Everyone loved it!

Yield: Serves 10-12 as a side dish

Ingredients
2  7-ounce bags arugula, (have a third on standby to perk up the salad)
1  8-ounce package dried, tart Montmorency cherries
1  6-ounce package crumbled feta cheese (sometimes Meera uses 2 containers)
1  8-ounce package raw, sliced almonds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Judy’s Chickens Every Day Salad Dressing or TJ’s Balsamic Vinaigrette
Lemony Grilled Chicken Breasts  (optional)

Mise en Place

Instructions

Put the arugula, feta and dried cherries in an extra-large mixing bowl that leaves plenty of room for tossing the ingredients together.

Next, toast the almonds in olive oil to enhance their nutty flavor. To do so, pour olive oil in a warmed medium-sized sauté pan. Add almonds and mix to coat. Sauté over medium-low heat for about two minutes. Meera told me to stir the nuts almost constantly because they go from toasted to burned, quickly. She said, with her infectious laugh, “This is not the time to multitask in the kitchen.” She was right about that. The nuts went from creamy-white to brown, to dark brown around the edges of the pan in the blink of an eye. When they start to brown, dump them immediately into a small bowl to stop the cooking process. Keep the nuts warm in a separate bowl until dinner time.

 

Just before serving, add the nuts and salad dressing. I like to use my own homemade salad dressing  @judyschickens Everyday Salad Dressing.  I sprinkle a little white balsamic vinegar over the greens for added “bite” before tossing. The greens start to collapse quickly, so don’t add dressing until you are ready to serve.

For the grilled chicken, try my chicken marinade recipe, Lemony Thyme Grilled Chicken Breasts.  The lemon and thyme in the chicken enhance the flavor of the salad.

The cost of this salad? $17.14 if you use your own salad dressing.

For a fun Labor day activity, check out Catfishing with Noodles on Lake Barkley, Kentucky!

Always check the website for the most current version of a recipe. Thanks!

© 2014-2017 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos and text may only be used with written consent.

“Croatian Cheese” a Flavorful and Exotic Appetizer Made with Feta and Goat Cheese

About ten years ago, we hosted a Croatian high school student for a month at our home in Nashville. His name was Bruno. The following summer, his family invited us to their summer home on the island of Brac, one of the Dalmatian Islands on the Adriatic coast. That vacation was one of the best trips of our lives.

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Bruno’s parents, Lilijana and Mario, fixed all of our meals using local produce and products found on the island. The honey came from the beehives of a friend, the red wine came from a vat at a cousin’s house, the olive oil was pressed at another cousin’s home, even the fresh tuna on the Fourth of July came from a friend at the pier. It was all so marvelous.

Lily was a fabulous cook. She probably used fifteen types of ingredients to make all of our meals. Her cooking was simple, fresh, and delicious. Some afternoons, she would mix equal parts of sheep milk feta and goat cheese with olive oil, garlic, and herbs and serve it with crusty bread as an appetizer. We devoured it. We dubbed it “Croatian Cheese.” The first thing I did when I returned home was try to recreate it.

Ingredients:DSC_0347
Approximately equal amounts of sheep (the feta) and goat milk cheeses — the packages I used had 1 pound of feta and 10 ounces of goat cheese
A few sprigs each of rosemary, basil, and parsley
*3 small cloves of freshly chopped garlic
1 cup extra virgin, first cold pressed, olive oil

Prepare the aromatics: snip the leaves and peel the garlic.

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I like to make this in a food processor for convenience. Refrigerate for a few hours to give the flavors time to meld. Serve cold.

Directions:
Pulse garlic cloves first*. Add herbs and pulse. Add cheeses and pulse. Finally, add olive oil and pulse briefly.

*Start with the smaller amount of garlic. Uncooked garlic is much stronger in flavor than cooked.

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And you are done. Fair warning: it’s garlic-y!

Below is a photo of my favorite memory of Croatia — our two families went together on an overnight sailing trip.

croatia sail dragoandrewjessetylerbruno

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© 2014-2018 Judy Wright. All rights reserved. Photos, videos, and text may only be reproduced with the written consent of Judy Wright.