Servings: 4 Prep: 15 mins Cook: 10 mins Total: 25 mins
I ❤️ berries. They’re nutrient dense, a bit sweet, come in an interesting array of colors, and are a perfect addition to salads. While a big crock of berries is likely to spike blood sugars, a small amount spread across a larger salad lends periodic sweet bursts spread throughout the roughage, all without substantial, unwanted spikes of blood sugar.
Good salads typically have something crunchy. Maybe it’s just my history with croutons, but it does seem like most salads are inclined towards some kind of textural contrast. In a normal world, this crunch is often found in croutons, but nuts are also quite common.
Nuts and berries? Perfect!
While not a requirement, I always toast my nuts before adding them to a raw salad. That little bit of toasting boosts the flavor and adds a twinge more “crisp” to them. It dries them out and lightly fries the outer edges in their own nut fat, as it’s melted and released. Knowing I was making a berry and nut salad, I reached down, turned on the oven, and started chopping my hazelnuts. As I was focused on my chopping and chasing down the round runaways, I started to think about some cheese… as one often does.
I don’t quite know what triggered my next thought, but it immediately seemed like a good idea to sprinkle some cheese on parchment, sprinkle my hazelnuts on the haphazard cheese, then bake it all up into shards of crunchy, nutty cheese! I took note of my inspiration and followed suit!
As my cheese baked, I squooshed some berries with a bit of mustard, swirled in a bit of sweetener, oil, vinegar, and seasoning, then tasted it. Fantastic! A bit sweet, additional texture and bursts of sweet from the squished berries, and some nice heat from the mustard. A really nice, quick, little vinaigrette!
After about 6 or 7 minutes, I checked my cheese. It had melted and started to turn a darker color. I turned off the oven, then slid the parchment onto my countertop, allowing the cheese to quickly cool and firm up on the cool countertop. I wasn’t terribly concerned about perfect formations and simply snapped off some nice, jagged shards of cheese. This left behind bits of cheese shrapnel on the oily parchment. I broke this up into little bite-sized noogins.
Finally, I tossed my washed and dried greens with the berry-mustard vinaigrette and cheese nibblets. I added a handful of salad to each bowl and garnished with my larger shards of cheese.
A well balanced, deeply nutritious salad, with tons of crunch. Give it a shot!
Blackberry-Mustard Salad with Nutty Cheddar CrispPrint Pin Rate
- 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup chopped, peeled hazelnuts or your favorite nut
- 1 cup fresh blackberries washed
- 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 Tbsp sugar replacement
- 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups mixed greens washed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C).
- Line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
- Evenly sprinkle the cheese into a scattershot layer.
- Sprinkle the hazelnuts evenly over the cheese. Place the tray in the oven and set a timer for 5 minutes. From that point forward, pay close attention to the cheese, as it can burn quite quickly once it melts and begins to fry. When it’s done, it should be bubbling in its own fat and have darkened evenly across the sheet. If it’s looking blotchy, turn the heat down by about half and give it a few more minutes to bake and crisp up more evenly. It’s quick and easy to make, but it’s also quick and easy to burn. Pay a bit of extra attention to this. Once it’s done, slide the parchment off the tray directly onto a cool countertop. Be careful of any hot fat that will have rendered from the cheese. Let it cool.
- Add half of the washed berries to a large mixing bowl. With a fork, the bottom of a spoon, squish the berries so they begin to release their juices. Whisk in the mustard, sweetener, and vinegar. Once that has combined into a smooth, off-purple mixture, whisk in the oil. The mustard will help the dressing emulsify into a nice creamy vinaigrette!
- Add the washed and dried greens to the bowl, along with the remaining half of the fresh berries.
- Snap off 4 nice big chunks of cheese crisp and set aside on a paper towel. Any remaining cheese bits can be chopped up into small bite sized bits. Add those to the bowl.
- Toss the salad together, taste it, add a bit of salt and pepper, if it needs it. Give it one final toss, then divide between 4 bowls.
- Set a cheese crisp atop each salad and serve!
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