Have you ever been to one of those Brazilian or Argentinian Steak Houses? You know, when you have to prepare yourself days ahead eating light foods so that you can enjoy, or at least get a portion of your money’s worth, at these all-you-can eat Churrascaria restaurants!
Since my return to Florida, I’ve been invited several times out to dine till I die at Texas di Brazil, which is coincidentally located at The Villages of Gulfstream Park, so that once you’re filled up on food, you can stroll all the shops, boutiques and casino. (Feel free to click on the Village link and listen to the music as you read this…just as I am while typing this out!
So, as you may know, Passadors (meat waiters) come to your table with knives and a skewer, on which are speared various kinds of meat, be it beef, pork, filet mignon, lamb, chicken, sausage, fish, or any other sort of local cut of meat. By placing the dining card to ‘green’ these very handsome Passadors will endlessly stop by to fill up your plate with carvings of your choice.
While I absolutely love all the meats, I’m also drawn to their huge seasonal salad bar area. Hard just to call it a “salad” bar as they have such gourmet selections of cheeses, imported Italian salamis, grilled shrimp, marinated peppers, mushrooms, asparagus and olives, sushi, soups and bisques and artisan breads. My favorite though is this gorgonzola grape salad. And, when I find something I love, I have to recreate it at home!
It’s so easy these days to find recipes online and sure enough, I found the recipe created by their Culinary Director, Evandro Cregnato. Then, I saw how much mayo he used!! OMG…this is why I prefer to cook at home, I know exactly what I put into it! Needless to say, I tweaked the recipe, reducing the 1 1/2 cups of mayo to 1/4 cup per 3 cups of grapes, adding in a lemon vinaigrette to replace the remaining mayo.
I also thought a bit of a crunch would be nice….and it so was! I added in some candied walnuts that I made using agave instead of sugar. Preparing just a full cup of these, you will have extra to put out in a small bowl for snacking. They will be gone instantly!
As I was delightfully enjoying my salad, I started to think about having this as an appetizer, and topping it on thinly sliced grilled bread and a bit of arugula, my gorgonzola salad was now a bruschetta appetizer!
Gorgonzola Grape Salad
1 1/2 cups Red Seedless Grapes
1 1/2 cups Green Seedless Grapes
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 -3 tablespoons Lemon Vinaigrette, see below
1/4 cup Candied Walnuts, see below
3/4 cup Gorgonzola Cheese, crumbled
In a large bowl, combine the grapes, mayo and lemon vinaigrette and gorgonzola cheese. Mix well and refrigerate until serving. Add in the candied walnuts when serving to maintain their crispness. Makes about 3 cups, serving about 4 sides.
Using 1 or 2 organic lemons, combine about 1 teaspoon of the lemon zest with about 2 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice. Add in 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Whisk together well and then drizzle in about 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, whisking well to combine completely.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine about 1 cup walnut halves in a small saucepan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer for about 3 minutes. Drain and add in about 2 tablespoons of agave and a pinch of salt to the hot walnuts and saucepan, stirring well to combine. Place the walnuts on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 5 -10 minutes, watching closely so they don’t burn. Remove from the oven and allow to cool, breaking up any big clumps. Refrigerate quickly so you don’t eat them all!!
(For a bit of seasonal taste, or spice, not necessarily for this recipe, vary adding in different seasonings with the agave such as cinnamon/cloves or cayenne.)
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.