When planning a celebratory dinner, like for New Years, I think it's fun and festive to incorporate special ingredients, and even a little alcohol in your dishes. This was the inspiration when I was piecing together a menu for Christmas dinner with my mom, my brothers, and my in-laws here. It was my first time hosting a holiday meal, and while it was a lot of work (and a risk, since I was trying most of the recipes for the very first time) it was well worth it and even more well-received! This salad is gorgeous and elegant, and the dressing goes a long way and stores great in a jar in the fridge!
9 dried figs, stemmed and halved
1 3/4 cups dry red wine
2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
1 5-ounce bag mesclun salad mix
4 ounces manchego cheese, shaved
1 cup hazelnuts, toasted and chopped
4 dried figs, thinly sliced lengthwise
1 fresh orange, skin and pith removed and separated into segments
In a small microwaveable bowl, microwave the dried figs and 1 cup water at full power for 2 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a medium saucepan. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Lower the heatand simmer for 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes.
Using a blender, puree the fig mixture. Add the olive oil, brown sugar, vinegar and 1 teaspoon salt and blend until smooth. Season with pepper.
Place the greens in a large bowl, drizzle with 1/2 cup dressing and toss to combine. Mound the salad greens onto 4 serving plates and top with the manchego, hazelnuts, figs, and oranges.
Recipe adapted from Everyday with Rachael Ray, August 2007.