Total time to prepare: 45 minutes
Sometimes you just want a salad that seems fancy, and this salad seems fancy. The roasted grapes give it a silky sweetness that you almost can’t put your finger on, the candied nuts supply a satisfying crunch, the dressing — laden with mustard and apple cider vinegar — makes it intriguing, and the cheese … well, it’s cheese — everybody loves cheese. Annnd, I think that’s the longest run-on sentence in this book. Basically, this is a good salad. You will like it. Feel free to buy the candied pecans — no need to make them if you don’t want to!
Roasty Grapes (makes 1 cup)
- 2 cups large seedless red grapes, stems removed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon coarsely chopped rosemary leaves
Candied Pecans (makes 2 cups)
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
- 4 teaspoons water
- 2 cups raw unsalted pecans
- 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
Dressing (makes ½ cup)
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 1½ tablespoons)
- ½ teaspoon finely chopped thyme
- 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, plus more to taste
- 2 tablespoons apple cider
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- Pinch of sugar
- ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Very Adult Salad
- 6 ounces baby arugula
- ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt, plus more to finish
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper, plus more to finish
- 1 cup roasty grapes
- 1½ cups chopped candied pecans
- ½ cup shaved pecorino romano
To make the roasty grapes
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Mix together 2 cups grapes, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon balsamic, ½ teaspoon salt and the chopped rosemary leaves in a 9 x 13-inch baking pan. Roast, stirring occasionally, until the grapes are extremely soft and deflated, about 20 minutes. Allow them to cool for 15 minutes before adding them to the salad.
To make the candied pecans
Preheat the oven or adjust the temperature to 350°F. In a large bowl, whisk together ½ cup powdered sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, the chopped rosemary leaves and 4 teaspoons water. Add 2 cups pecans and toss to coat. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden and shiny, about 16 minutes. As soon as the nuts come out of the oven, lay them on a piece of parchment and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon granulated sugar and ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt. Separate the nuts if needed. Allow them to cool for 10 minutes before using.
To make the dressing
Combine the shallot, thyme, 1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons apple cider, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, the garlic, a pinch of sugar, ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ cup olive oil in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it like crazy to emulsify. Add extra salt and vinegar to taste.
To make the very adult salad
In a large serving bowl, toss 6 ounces arugula with ½ teaspoon flaky sea salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Start by pouring in ¼ cup of the salad dressing. Toss and add more dressing to taste and pile the salad with 1 cup roasty grapes, 1½ cups chopped candied pecans, and ½ cup shaved pecorino romano. Finish with extra flaky sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper, if desired.
Tips + Timing
- The grapes and dressing can be made up to three days in advance and stored in the fridge in separate airtight containers.
- The nuts are best fresh, so make them within a few hours of dinner and leave out at room temp.
- No time to make the candied pecans? Just buy ’em!
Cook With Natasha
Two more recipes from The Dinner Party Project for AARP members to try:
This steak recipe is low-stress and tastes professional. Try it with either the Pistachio-Date Salsa Verde Sauce or Bistro Compound Butter.
For me, the joy of this dessert is how easy it is. You’re just a few stirs and snips away from childhood nostalgia!
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