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Romaine, Gorgonzola, Grape and Walnut Salad

Gorgonzola dolcelatte is the sweeter version of the fabulously rich, blue-veined cheese. If you cannot find it at your market, substitute Roquefort or a similar blue cheese. When in season, figs or grapes make a nice addition to the salad. In winter, serve it with wedges of ripe pear.

Ingredients:

For the walnut vinaigrette:

  • 7 Tbs. walnut oil
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. aged balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

  • 1 cup walnuts, preferably halves
  • 3 heads romaine lettuce, leaves separated and torn
      into bite-size pieces
  • 6 small ripe figs, quartered through stem ends
      (optional)
  • 1 cup red or black seedless grapes, halved
      (optional)
  • 2 small pears, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
      (optional)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 lb. Gorgonzola dolcelatte cheese, at
      room temperature, broken into bite-size
      pieces

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

To make the walnut vinaigrette, in a bowl, whisk together the walnut and olive oils, balsamic and sherry vinegars, salt and pepper. Set aside.

Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet and place in the oven. Toast, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and fragrant, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Transfer to a small bowl, add 3 Tbs. of the vinaigrette, toss lightly and let stand for 15 minutes before assembling the salad.

Place the torn romaine in a large bowl. Add the marinated walnuts and drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette. Toss well. Divide among chilled individual plates and top with the figs, grapes or pears and the cheese, dividing all the ingredients evenly, and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Soup for Supper, by Joyce Goldstein (Time-Life Books, 1998).