Arugula Salad with Spicy Caramelized Walnuts

We are inspired by a spinach salad with strawberries and pecans at the Oregon Grille to combine arugula with strawberries and walnuts. The combination of the spiciness of the arugula, the sweetness of the local fresh strawberries and balsamic vinegar, and the crunchiness of the carmelized walnuts, is wonderful.

Servings and Times

Serves: 4
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 5 minutes

Tools and Appliances

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We start by getting our nuts ready. The small package of walnuts contains ½ cup of shelled nuts. We use them all tonight, but it was too many for the quantity of caramel. Half the nuts or double the caramel would have worked better.

Making a “dry” caramel, in a medium pot, we melt the sugar over medium-low heat. The salt and cayenne are sprinkled over the nuts and tossed to combine. The sugar is stirred as it is melting – we do not want the mixture to burn.

Meanwhile, we get a cookie sheet ready with a piece of parchment paper.

Once the sugar is melted, the pan is removed from the heat. The caramel is a pretty shade of amber (thanks to the brown sugar) so we add the nuts. We cook for another minute, stirring with a metal spoon and trying our best to coat all the nuts with the caramel while preventing the bottom from burning. We pour the nuts onto the parchment paper to cool.

When the nuts are cooled, we chop them into small pieces. In a small resealable container, the vinegar is stirred with a little salt and the oil added. The strawberries are rinsed, patted dry, stemmed, and sliced.

In a large salad bowl, the cleaned arugula is combined with just enough dressing to coat the leaves. We plate the salad by mounding some of the dressed arugula on a plate and arranging some of the strawberries, cheese, and nuts on an individual portion. The salads are finished with some freshly ground black pepper.

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