Sunday, February 24, 2008

Armenian Parsley & Walnut Salad

When entertaining last weekend, we did a mixed grill: racks of lamb (3), Sicilian-Italian sausage with cheese in it (about 2 pounds), and some marinated chicken breasts too. We had grilled provolone cheese (I'll post the recipe soon) and some wonderful coriander lime shrimp as appetizers, so wanted a fairly simple side to serve with the meat. This salad came to mind as it's just wonderful with grilled meats, and it has a kind of Italian bent with the Mediterranean olives mixed in.

The recipe came from Nicole Aloni, a Hollywood caterer and cookbook author. She taught a cooking class some years ago, and we all enjoyed the food, but her stories about entertaining the celebs in Hollywood was most interesting. She kind of became a caterer to the stars by default - lucky, I guess - but her food is very good. Nothing healthy about it, usually, although this salad isn't a bad choice. She particularly works at preparing food the day before a party.

The salad is mostly composed of parsley (the curly leafed, not Italian) and toasted walnuts. But it's accented with Kalamata olives, green onions and fresh tomatoes, then tossed with a cumin, lemony dressing. Oh, and a bit of red chile flakes.

Cook's Notes: You could easily change the proportions of these items to suit your tastes, but the parsley needs to be the featured green. Ideally, make this one day ahead, but any longer than that and the parsley wilts down to nothing. Once you've made the salad, taste it and decide if you'd like to add more tomatoes, or parsley. Or perhaps more olives. Chop the olives fairly small, as they can overpower your taste buds if you get much of it in one bite. And don't skip the walnut toasting step - they add a wonderful grace note to the flavor in the overall salad.

Armenian Parsley & Walnut Salad
Recipe By : Nicole Aloni, author and caterer
Serving Size : 8
1 cup walnuts -- chopped, toasted, or almonds
2 bunches parsley -- regular curly, coarsely chopped
3/4 cup kalamata olives -- pitted, minced
1/2 cup scallion -- minced
1 cup fresh tomatoes -- peeled, seeded, chopped
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1. Toast nuts at 325° for about 10 minutes. Cool completely before using in the recipe.
2. Remove stems from the parsley and coarsely chop. Do not use a food processor for this as they will be too fine.
3. Chop the olives, walnuts and green onions, then combine all ingredients, tossing with the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill.
NOTES : If the tomatoes are out of season, add just a teaspoon of sugar to sweeten them. You can also add mint to this salad if that is a flavor you enjoy. Be sure to use regular curly parsley (not Italian flat leaf) as it gives the salad some "lift." This improves if made a day ahead.
Per Serving: 248 Calories; 24g Fat (82.7% calories from fat); 5g Protein; 7g Carbohydrate; 2g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 365mg Sodium. Exchanges: 0 Grain(Starch); 1/2 Lean Meat; 1/2 Vegetable; 0 Fruit; 4 1/2 Fat.
Printer-friendly recipe, click title at top.

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