This is a lovely, colorful salad that would make a perfect starter for any festive occasion.
It’s easy to make and the salad is served warm, so have all the ingredients lined up and ready to go as you’ll be assembling this at the last minute.
Be sure to use the best quality balsamic vinegar you can find (I use one that’s aged 12 years – a bit of an investment but well worth it as it stands alone and is perfect for drizzling over shaved Parmesan, etc). If you don’t want to spend upwards of $35 for an aged vinegar, Trader Joe’s sells a pretty decent balsamic vinegar for under $8.
I use the soft mild goat cheese that you buy in little plastic wrapped logs. Costco sells excellent soft goat cheese that’s incredibly well priced; it comes in a generous twin-pack and I usually freeze one for later.
If you don’t like hazelnuts, substitute pine nuts. Toast pine-nuts in a dry skillet over a medium heat; keep stirring them and watch like a hawk as they’ll burn in an instant.
WARM SALAD of RED CABBAGE, TOASTED HAZELNUTS & GOAT CHEESE with a BALSAMIC DRESSING
(Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or side dish)
1/4 cup of light tasting oil (I use grape seed or avocado oil but canola oil will do)
1 medium sized red cabbage, finely shredded (discard the white core)
2/3 cup (160ml measure) of chopped toasted hazelnuts (toasting instructions to follow)
1/3 cup (80ml) of good quality balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
4 oz (114g) of soft goat cheese, crumbled
First toast the hazelnuts. Pre-heat the oven to 350F 180C). Spread the whole nuts on a baking sheet and bake for 8-9 minutes until golden. Remove the skins by either rubbing them in a cloth/tea-towel, or swirl them around in a large wire mesh strainer over the sink. Don’t worry if you can’t get all the skins off. Chop the nuts coarsely and set aside.
Heat the oil in a wide sauté pan. Add most of the chopped nuts (save some for decoration) and the shredded cabbage; stir frequently until the cabbage has wilted/softened.
Once the cabbage has softened, add the balsamic vinegar, sugar and salt and stir everything together for another minute or so to coat the cabbage. Check to see if the cabbage is as tender as you’d like it and adjust the salt and vinegar if you think it needs it.
Divide the cabbage among warmed plates and top each mound with crumbled goat cheese and a sprinkle of chopped nuts.
Serve while still warm.