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Mesclun, Fennel, and Candied-Pecan Salad

By July 2004Comments

LEMON-BASIL DRESSING

1 bunch fresh basil
1 shallot, coarsely chopped
6 tablespoons champagne vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 eggs
3/4 cup salad oil
1/4 cup Texas extra-virgin olive oil
salt and white pepper to taste

In a food processor, purée first 5 ingredients. Slowly add oils and process until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Dressing should be thin enough to lightly coat salad greens; if too thick, thin with cool water.

SALAD

1 tablespoon sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
pinch cayenne pepper
1 bulb fennel
4 ounces firm, aged Texas goat cheese or Parmigiano-Reggiano
4 cups mesclun (such as arugula, dandelion greens, frisée, mizuma, oak leaf lettuce, radicchio, and sorrel), as small and young as possible
16 red cherry or pear tomatoes, halved
Lemon-Basil Dressing (recipe above)
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Toss sugar, pecans, and cayenne with 1 teaspoon water. Place nuts on an ungreased cookie sheet and toast for 20 minutes; set aside. Shave fennel paper-thin (use a mandoline for best results) and keep in ice water until ready to use. Shave cheese paper-thin. Toss candied pecans, mesclun, and tomatoes with K to O cup dressing. Adjust seasoning. Divide greens evenly among 8 plates and top with fennel and cheese. Serves 8.

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