We set out to make a Cobb salad but got distracted by some of our favorite nibbles; slices of pear, toasted walnuts, pickled onions. The result is a salad that's so much fun you barely notice it's a well-balanced meal. For a dramatic presentation, arrange the ingredients in strips over the lettuce, Cobb-salad style, then toss the salad at the table.

ingredients

  • For the Walnuts:
  • 1 cup walnut pieces
  • For the Potato:
  • 1 baking potato (about 1/2 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • For the Dressing:
  • 1/2 pound Roquefort cheese or other blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup wine vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup mild oil, such as canola
  • For the Salad:
  • 1 head romaine lettuce (about 1 1/4 pounds), cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips (about 3 quarts)
  • 2 bunches watercress (about 10 ounces in all), tough stems removed, leaves chopped (about 1 quart)
  • 1 cup drained cocktail onions
  • 1 avocado, preferably Hass, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 pear, peeled, cored and sliced

directions

FOR THE WALNUTS:

In a small frying pan, toast the nuts over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Or toast them in a 350 degrees F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

FOR THE POTATO:

Put the potato in a medium pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and simmer until tender, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

FOR THE DRESSING:

Meanwhile, in a large glass or stainless steel bowl, combine one third of the blue cheese with the vinegar, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly and then gradually whisk in the oil. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the dressing.

FOR THE SALAD:

Add the romaine to the rest of the dressing and toss. Transfer to a platter or salad bowl. Toss the watercress with the reserved dressing. Arrange the remaining blue cheese, the watercress, walnuts, potato, onions, avocado and pear slices on top of the lettuce.

Tip: WINE RECOMMENDATION: There's only one grape we can think of that can handle blue cheese, walnuts, avocado and vinegar. Riesling it is, and an off-dry kabinett from Germany's Mosel is the one you want.

Recipe reprinted by permission of Food and Wine. All rights reserved.

RecID 2969

nutrition information per serving

816 calories; 68g total fat; 51mg cholesterol; 1523mg sodium; 36g carbohydrates; 9g fiber; 22g protein

These nutrition facts are calculated according to the ingredients listed in this recipe. Any substitutions will change these facts. Although we strive for accuracy, please note that food manufacturers occasionally change their food formulas, which could affect the calculations as shown.

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