We hosted two little dinner parties last week, which made for a very busy but fun couple of days. I’ll be writing a post in the next few days with the recipe to the entree I served, plus a few tips for throwing a stress-free dinner party. In the meantime, I wanted to share the salad I made for my friends last Saturday. I have to admit that I didn’t follow one of my own new rules – don’t make something for a party that you’ve never tested out before – but since this was a simple salad, I took a chance. This will now not only be a go-to side salad for me, but a lovely and simple way to start future dinner parties.
Lately I’ve been working out on my little stationary bike while watching episodes of Barefoot Contessa on DVR, and I’ve picked up some wonderful party tips from Ina along the way. One of my favorite tips was from an episode about how to throw the perfect cocktail party. Ina said that instead of making everything from scratch, do yourself a favor and make some things that only require assembly, not actual cooking. I took this advice to heart when coming up with a salad recipe for my party. I wanted the salad to be flavorful and interesting, but I didn’t want to have to spend more than five minutes throwing it together.
When I started thinking of the salad as the “assembly” part of my meal, it was easy to come up with an idea: I used a jar of marinated artichokes and some store-bought marcona almonds that were roasted with rosemary as the centerpiece of my salad. With a simple lemon and olive oil dressing, the salad ended up having an effortlessly delicious combination of flavors and textures. The artichokes and marcona almonds were already so good on their own that they did all the work for me – all I had to do was throw them together. The dressing is bright and zesty, but won’t distract from the other flavors. And importantly, the salad is light enough that your guests won’t be too full going into the main course. I served this with an Italian entree, but I’m sure it would go well with a large variety of other meals.
Of course, this is really more of a blueprint for a salad rather than a set recipe. You can use any sort of nuts you want, but try to get something good quality with plenty of flavor. Remember, let the ingredients do the work for you!
- 1 bag of mixed greens
- About 1 cup marinated artichokes, drained
- ⅔ cup marcona almonds
- For the dressing:
- ½ cup olive oil
- Juice of 2 lemons (about ¼ cup)
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Roughly chop the artichokes into bite-size pieces.
- Combine artichokes, almonds and mixed greens in a large serving bowl. Toss well.
- Whisk all of the dressing ingredients together until fully blended.
- Add about half the dressing to the salad and toss well; taste to see if more dressing is necessary. Alternatively, serve dressing on the side so guests can add their own.
Note: Dressing from the cookbook Barefoot Contessa Family Style