A New Twist on Salad

I’ve lived in New England for almost two decades, but for years, I made my home in Columbus, Ohio, where I headed up a large cooking school. Recently, to promote Sunday Roasts I returned to this friendly Midwestern city.
My host and longtime assistant, Emily, organized a small dinner at her house and planned a fabulous menu with others who had taught at my school. From my first sip of a delectable sweet potato soup to my last bite of sticky toffee pudding, I was in heaven. Bourbon-marinated and barbecued pork tenderloins set atop roasted root vegetables were a stellar entrée, but it was the salad that won the most raves.

Talented cooking teachers, Steve Stover and Rich Terapak, both lawyers, had created this sophisticated salad that boasted a variety of textures and flavors, and that made a striking presentation. On each plate there was a small mound of warm cherry chutney and a slice of creamy Gorgonzola nestled next to mixed greens tossed in a balsamic dressing. The sweet and tart notes of the chutney, the creamy cheese, and the crisp salad combined to make this dish far from ordinary. I’ve adapted the recipe slightly, using a lemon/ balsamic dressing instead of a reduced balsamic base, but the rest of the recipe is just the delicious same.
Warm Cherry Chutney with Gorgonzola and Mixed Greens
Cherry Chutney
1 cup dried tart cherries (preferably unsweetened)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup dried apricots, cut in 1/4-inch pieces  
1 pear, peeled and cut in 1/4-inch dice
2 sprigs (2 to 3 inches each) fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup dry red wine
1/2 cup reduced sodium chicken stock, optional
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt plus more if needed
1/3 cup olive oil
8 cups mixed greens
1 8-ounce wedge Gorgonzola (if possible Gorgonzola Dolce)
1. For the chutney combine all the ingredients in a medium, heavy saucepan and stir well. Place pan over medium heat, and cook and stir, uncovered, until chutney is slightly thickened, about 12 to 15 minutes. If liquids start to cook down during this time, gradually add some chicken stock. (Chutney can be prepared 3 days ahead; cool, cover, and refrigerate. Reheat over medium heat, stirring.) Makes 2 cups chutney.
2. For the salad dressing, whisk together the lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, and salt in a medium nonreactive bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. (Dressing can be prepared 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature and whisk well before using.)
3. To serve, place the greens in a large bowl and toss with enough dressing to coat lightly. (You may have some dressing left over.) Season with more salt if needed.  Arrange a mound of salad on each of eight salad plates. Spoon a couple of tablespoons of warm chutney on the plate and carefully place a slice of Gorgonzola alongside the chutney. Serves 8

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