Saturday, December 3, 2011

Spinach Salad in Parmesean Frico Cups

This is a both a pretty and a delicious salad - refreshing and very easy to serve.  Kids especially love it as they enjoy the parmesean cups being part of the salad as well as the little salad bowl.  The salad dressing can be made early in the morning and taken out about 10 minutes before serving as the olive oil will partially solidify in the refrigerator.

You can make the parmesean frico cups the day before if you have a cool, dry place in which to keep them so they do not pick up moisture.

The toasted nuts add a wonderful dimension to the salad.  If you are not a nut eater, then fried chinese-style noodles can be used and are quite good as well.  Tiny homemade croutons can be added if you have some leftover bread.  Be sure and make them small so the size will be in proportion to the little salads.

For the Parmesan Frico Cups:
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Parmesan 

For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  •  One small clove of garlic,crushed (optional - but wonderful!)
For the Spinach Salad:
  • 6 ounces baby English spinach leaves (about 6 cups)
  • 1 orange, cut into segments (I use fresh mandarins)
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted ( I use toasted pecans - walnuts are nice too)
  • 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced (the flatter-shaped red onion 'seem' milder and I use these)
  • Special equipment: a silpat mat, a muffin tin, and a small drinking glass
  • (I hear that some less-expensive silicone baking mats work well - I have not tried this)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

For the Parmesan Frico Cups:
Place a silpat mat on a baking sheet. Place 6 (1/4-cup) mounds of Parmesan cheese on the mat and gently tap down until each mound is flat and 4 1/2 to 5 inches in diameter.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden and bubbly. Watch carefully as they can go from perfect to a bit too brown quickly.

Working quickly, use a thin spatula to transfer the Parmesan Frico to a muffin tin. Gently place a small drinking glass on top of the Parmesan Frico to mold it into the shape 1 of the muffin cups. Let cool until firm, about 5 minutes. Continue with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

For the Citrus Vinaigrette:
Combine all the ingredients in a jar or a tight-sealing plastic container. Shake to blend. Taste.  If you think it needs a bit more honey or salt or even a few drops of balsamic vinegar, now is the time to adjust the dressing to your taste.  Refrigerate until 10 minutes before ready to use.

For the Spinach Salad:
In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients. Drizzle with vinaigrette and toss to combine. Divide the salad among the Parmesan Frico Cups and serve immediately.

Kosher for Pesach if ingredients are chosen with care. (omit croutons, fried noodles, etc)

K (D)

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