Every now and then, Steve and I like to eat at the Tonto Bar & Grill at Rancho Mañana in Cave Creek. The last time we went, I ordered their Blistered Heirloom Tomato Salad with grilled salmon. For me to order a salad with that name is somewhat surprising. Because although I do not dislike tomatoes, they are not one of my favorite things. I love them in some dishes. But mostly I’ll eat them, although I won’t miss them if they are not there.
What captured my curiosity was the description of Frisée, red leaf lettuce, honey white balsamic, bulgur wheat, scallions, candied almonds, feta. Well, there you go! I’m wriggling at the end of the line. So, pull out the hook and heat up the skillet because this fish was an easy catch!
And it may be just me. But the blistered cherry tomatoes placed around the edges of the salad were completely dispensable. Because they were blistered whole, with the skin on, there was no seasoning to them at all. They were a bland distraction to what was otherwise a “sit up straight and pay attention to me” salad. For that reason, I excluded the tomatoes in my salad.
The reason this salad rocks is the amazing combination of:
- crunchy sweetness from candied almonds,
- the nutty chewiness of the bulgur,
- the mix of subtle and peppery greens,
- the salty tang of the feta,
- the sharp, herby bite of the scallions,
- and that amazing honey balsamic vinaigrette
You might be asking yourself why I am calling this a Nut ‘N’ Honey Baby Greens Salad. Well, I couldn’t call it a copycat Blistered Heirloom Tomato Salad when I excluded the tomatoes entirely. I still give Tonto Bar & Grill credit for the concept, but this is my take on it, and I needed a different name.
let’s make a Nut ‘n’ honey baby greens salad
This is what you need for the beautiful white balsamic and honey vinaigrette.
The dressing recipe is courtesy of Tiny Kitchen, with minute customizing. I cut back a little on the honey because my salad calls for candied almond slices. I found that using two whole tablespoons of honey made the salad too sweet when you added the candied almonds.
And this is what you need for the salad itself.
The baby greens I chose is the 50-50 blend. There are many brands out there, but almost all include spinach, red and green lettuce, frisée and arugula. Those are the key flavors you want to be sure and include.
Try to make the feta crumbles as small as possible because you want the feta to be an accent, or layer, not a hugely bold statement.
What is prepared bulgur? It is bulgur that has been “cooked and hydrated” in boiling water. The ratio is pretty much one to one. Boil water in the same measurement as the bulgur. Then, add the bulgur and let it absorb all the water. After it is cooled, it should be the consistency you need. If it is not loose and crumbly, you may need to squeeze out the excess moisture. Use a clean cotton dishtowel to wrap the bulgur and wring out any excess water.
Start with the bulgur so it has plenty of time to get dry and cool. You can do it early in the day, then just cover and let it sit until you need it.
Next, toast the almond slices in a little butter and sugar.
You want them to look like this.
Then mix the dressing ingredients, adding salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
Then assemble the salad ingredients.
That sucker looks beautiful and it has not even been dressed yet!
Drizzle about half of the dressing and toss. Why half? Two reasons. First, I wanted to convey Tiny Kitchen’s recipe as true to the original as possible. Second, you have enough to make the salad again the next day. That’s what we did. It is that good!
And you get this little thing of beauty.
Serve it as a side salad as pictured above.
Or pair it with a protein, like we did. Steve grilled some beautiful preservative-free Italian sausages. Or, like I did at the restaurant, add grilled salmon. I can’t think of a protein that would not go well with this gorgeous salad.
Ok, proof of deliciousness, people. My daughter-in-law Shania is somewhat “cautious” in her food choices. MANY things green are not on her list of consumables. She also does not eat cheese.
For a recent family-night dinner, I made this salad, adding feta to individual portions, but not the salad bowl. Now, my Matt-man, her brother-in-law, is the guy who waits until everyone is done with seconds and then proceeds to finish salads straight out of the salad bowl. He is very gracious about making sure everyone has had their fill, and politely announces that if everyone is done, he will finish the salad. Because this man LOVES salads.
At this family dinner, when Matt made his announcement, Shania immediately responded that SHE was NOT done with salad. She later told me that if everyone made salads like mine, she would eat them all. THEN she texted me a few days later and asked for the dressing recipe. HELLO! If that’s not a winning salad, I don’t know what is!
Try my Nut ‘N’ Honey Baby Greens Salad. I KNOW you’ll love it, just like Shania did!
- FOR THE SALAD
- 6-7 cups 50-50 salad mix (one 5-ounce container)
- 4 tablespoons prepared bulgur
- 4 tablespoons feta cheese, fine crumble
- 3 whole scallions, sliced thinly
- ⅓ cup sliced almonds
- 1 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon butter or butter spread
- FOR THE DRESSING
- ½ cup quality olive oil
- ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
- 1 - 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Measure out equal portions of bulgur and water, Heat the water in a microwave until just boiling. Remove, add the bulgur, stirring to fully soak. Allow to sit until fully absorbed and cooled, at least 2 hours. The bulgur should be loose and crumbly. If too wet, squeeze out excess water through a clean cotton towel.
- Melt butter in a large wide nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat. Add the almond slices and spread in single layer. Sprinkle with ½ teaspoon of sugar and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle the remaining ½ teaspoon of sugar. Stir again then return to single layer. Cook for two minutes or until almonds turn a medium golden brown, stirring occasionally. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk the salad dressing ingredients together until well blended and slightly thick. Taste for seasoning. Add more honey ¼ tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired level of sweetness. I usually use 1½ tablespoons.
- In a large bowl, combine all the salad ingredients. Then drizzle just under half the dressing and toss. Add more dressing if needed, toss again, then serve.
Prepare the bulgur well in advance of making the salad so it has time to fully hydrate and cool.