When I grew up in central Florida, there was a chain restaurant that served one of my favorite salads. Crisp lettuce was tossed with a combination of cheeses and nuts and tossed with vinaigrette dressing.
I’ve come up with a way to re-create this Cheddar-Nut Salad at home. It makes two hearty lunch salads for the office, or the recipe can be doubled or tripled and served as a light summer supper.
The most memorable component of the salad is the combination of shredded sharp cheddar cheese, cubed gruyere cheese, roasted and salted sunflower seeds, sliced almonds and chopped walnuts, which are sprinkled over the top of cool, crisp salad greens.
You can substitute your favorite nuts or those you have on hand in place of those listed in the recipe. Pecans, pine nuts and hazelnuts all would make nice substitutions.
The salad greens also are topped with sliced black olives and ripe tomato wedges.
To keep things crisp for the salad, pack the lettuce, olives and tomatoes in one container, the cheddar-nut mixture in a separate container and some homemade or store-bought vinaigrette in a third, small container. Toss them all together just before serving.
1 heart of romaine, washed, chopped and spun dry
½ head iceberg lettuce, washed, chopped and spun dry
1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
4 ounces gruyere or fontina cheese, cut into small cubes
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup sliced almonds
½ cup chopped walnuts
1 4-ounce can sliced black olives, drained
1 tomato quartered in wedges
Vinaigrette dressing, homemade or store bought
Combine the romaine and iceberg lettuces and place in the bottom of a chilled salad bowl. Combine the cheeses and nuts and sprinkle over the lettuce. Sprinkle with the black olives. Toss with the vinaigrette and then garnish with the tomato wedges.
Makes 2 servings.