This is one of my all-time favorite salads and whenever I share it with others it gets rave reviews. The honey vinaigrette in combination with the tang of the blue cheese, crunch of toasted hazelnuts, and sweetness of the currants is heavenly. I kid you not. I can’t get enough of this salad and I’ve been making it for well over a decade.
The recipe is adapted from the Mixed Greens with Gorgonzola and Honey Vinaigrette recipe from epicurious.com. On the last page of the comments by readers I found my own review from November of 1999 as a “Cook from Eugene, OR.” Reading it was a time warp to my sparsely furnished student housing apartment at the University of Oregon. Memories…
The original recipe calls for garlic and salt but I prefer the dressing without them. And although you can use balsamic vinegar as a substitution the sherry vinegar is worth the effort to seek out. You can buy pre-toasted hazelnuts but they are better if you toast them on your own. There are two methods for peeling the papery skin from the hazelnuts, either toasting them in the oven and then removing the peels or boiling them in water to remove the peels first and then toasting them. I just use the oven method and peel off the skins with my fingers.
The easiest way to mix the dressing is to dump all of the ingredients into a clean glass jar, put the lid on, and shake it vigorously. You can experiment with the salad flavors by adding apples or pears, pecans or walnuts, cranberries or dried cherries, and various kinds of cheeses but I always come back to the hazelnuts, currants, and blue cheese. In terms of the greens, use what you love although this is a decidedly non-iceberg lettuce moment. A standard spring mix works well. I like to include baby beet greens, mâche, and arugula for variety and if you like bitter greens they are a nice play against the sweetness.
I love this salad as an accompaniment with meatballs, steaks, or simply on its own. The very best part is when you get down to the bottom of the bowl and find a juicy little gathering of hazelnuts, currants, and blue cheese that have fallen to the bottom and collected an extra coating of dressing along the way. Simply divine.
Mixed greens with blue cheese, currants, toasted hazelnuts, and honey vinaigrette
makes 6 side salads
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
8 ounces (225g) blue cheese, crumbled
1 cup (115g) whole hazelnuts, toasted, peeled, and broken into small pieces*
3/4 cup (100g) currants
5 ounces (120g) salad greens (about 8 cups)
1. Combine the sherry vinegar, honey, Worcestershire sauce, dijon mustard, and olive oil in a glass jar with a lid. Shake vigorously until the ingredients are well blended.
2. Place the washed and dried salad greens in a large bowl. Drizzle a majority of the dressing over the greens and toss them well to coat. Add more dressing if desired and toss again.
3. Transfer the dressed greens to a serving bowl or individual plates and sprinkle with the desired amount of blue cheese, hazelnuts, and currants.
*To crush the hazelnuts for an individual serving you can use a mortar and pestle. If crushing a large number of nuts, place them in a zip lock bag. Put the bag inside the fold of a kitchen towel and manipulate the nuts into a single layer. Use a meat mallet or rolling pin to crush the nuts. Keep checking regularly to make sure you reach the desired size without going too far.
For more information about salad greens, here are links to two guides: