Thursday, July 5, 2007

Charentais Melons with Candied Walnuts, Watercress & Vanilla Bean Vinaigrette

Serves 10-12

This is adapted from a seasonal recipe served at the Restaurant at Wente Vineyards by executive chef Jerry Regester. He recommends pairing this salad with a Riesling.

The vinaigrette

1 vanilla bean

1/4 cup champagne vinegar

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup walnut oil

The candied walnuts

1/2 pound shelled walnuts

4 ounces powdered sugar

1/2 to 3/4 cup peanut or canola oil

The salad

1 medium Charentais melon or substitute any sweet, golden melon

1 small bunch seedless grapes, halved (about 2 cups)

2 bunches watercress

1 head frisee

For the vinaigrette: Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and place in a bowl with the vinegar, salt and pepper. Stir and let stand for 15 minutes. Scrape the seeds into the liquid and remove the vanilla pod. Slowly whisk in the oils and set aside.

For the walnuts: Blanch the nuts in boiling water, drain well, then toss with the sugar. Let the sugar dissolve on the damp nuts.

In a deep-sided pan, heat the oil to 325°. Fry the nuts until golden brown, watching carefully so they don't burn. Remove nuts with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate to cool. This step can be done several hours ahead.

For the salad: Halve and peel the melon, remove the seeds and slice into wedges. Place the wedges on a platter or divide among individual plates. Dress the grapes, watercress and frisee in the vinaigrette. Place on top of the melon wedges and garnish with the candied walnuts. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 350 calories, 5 g protein, 27 g carbohydrate, 27 g fat (3 g saturated), 0 cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 3 g fiber.

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