It wasn’t until Cabot Creamery delivered a box of cheddar, that I decided to toss cheddar back into my salads. The only reason why I stopped, was because feta, parmesan or goat cheese also became a few of my favorite salad additions. As a kid, Dad used to effortlessly toss large garden salads of tomato wedges, crisp iceberg lettuce, chunky carrot slices and thick, sliced cucumbers with cheddar chunks thrown into the bowl. Other people made similar salads with cubes of meat. Dad also introduced to us to salads made with greens grown from our backyard garden. When most people were eating sweet iceberg, we were munching on delicate, bitter greens: the type of pre-washed greens most people currently buy. Today’s salads are nuanced plates with artfully arranged vegetables.
This salad is a slight nod to those robust garden salads of yesterday, but it’s updated with blueberries, dried cherries, delicate greens and smoked turkey (hopefully not the deli style). Juicy blueberries and tart dried cherries sweetly uplifts the salad. The cheddar adds a creamy and tangy balance to the sweet and savory textures. The Creamy Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette marries all the flavors well.
The delicate dark greens may seem as if this salad is a side dish. It’s a hearty dish. It’s a time saver meal (great for weekdays). And, it packs well for lunch the following day (separately pack the Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette in another container). In addition, it’s one of those dinner salads for hot summer days, in which the oven stays off. When buying the ingredients for this salad, visit a butcher or the speciality meat section for smoked turkey or chicken. Since the meat is already cooked, the other ingredients for this salad comes together in lighting-speed.
Juicy blueberries replaces tomato wedges. Use authentic smoked duck, turkey or chicken instead of cubes of deli-style meat. Tender, young, dark greens replace torn crisp iceberg lettuce. As a chunky, nuanced and hearty salad, the Cheddar and Smoked Chicken Salad with Creamy Roasted Shallot Vinaigrette continues Dad’s tradition of mindlessly tossing garden fresh dinner meals with delicate ease.
- 5 oz. baby arugula, kale and/or spinach leaves (dark baby greens)
- 6 oz. sharp cheddar, cut into ½” cubes
- 1 cup dried cherries
- 2 cups fresh blueberries
- Thinly sliced small red onion
- 1 cup/8 oz. walnut halves, toasted
- 1 lb. smoked turkey or chicken, sliced ¼” thick*
- (Optional) Crushed red pepper
- Roast Shallot Vinaigrette (Recipe Below)
- Quarter Lemon Wedges
- 4 whole shallots (about 4 oz.), left in thin, paper shells
- 2 large garlic cloves
- Sea salt and fresh black pepper
- 1 tbsp. & 1/3-cup olive oil
- 3 tbsp. Greek, plain and unsweetened yogurt
- 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 1 tsp. whole grain, dijon mustard
- 1 tsp. honey
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Place shallots and garlic over foil that’s placed on top of a baking sheet. Sprinkle sea salt, fresh black pepper and 1 tbsp. olive oil over the shallots and garlic.
- Wrap shallots in foil over the baking sheet. Place shallots and garlic wrapped in foil over the baking sheet in the oven to roast for about 30 to 45 minutes, or until soft when squeezed.
- Remove shallot and garlic from oven and set aside to cool.
- When the shallots and garlic are cool to handle, unwrap the foil. Gently squeeze shallots and garlic out of their papery skin and place in the cup of a blender.
- Add the rest of the ingredients with sea salt and fresh black pepper to the blender’s cup.
- Puree until smooth.
- Drizzle over a salad.
- Place greens on individual plates or one large serving platter.
- Equally divide or top large serving platter with cheddar cheese, dried cherries, blueberries, red onion, walnut halves and thick smoked chicken/turkey slices.
- Sprinkle salad with sea salt, optional crushed red pepper and fresh black pepper.
- Garnish with lemon wedges and drizzle Roast Shallot Vinaigrette over the salad or allow guests to dress their own salads.
4 to 6 servings
*Avoid the deli-style smoked turkey and chicken, and look for smoked turkey breast in a speciality butcher shop or supermarket.
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