This recipe has a combination of unique flavors and wonderful textures that can be served as a starter, or you can add some grilled fish or chicken and make it a wonderful summer meal. The salad begins with soft leaves of butter lettuce that is paired with toasted pecans, blue cheese, sun-dried cranberries, smoky bacon, and then tossed in sweet yet pungent vinaigrette using our signature one of our signature vinegars, Garlic infused Apple Balsamic.
Make the vinaigrette: In a food processor, add the vinegar, mustard, honey, thyme, and cinnamon, blend on high to fully incorporate the ingredients.
With the motor running, slowly add the olive oil in a steady steam, starting with 1/2 cup. Taste the flavor of the vinaigrette, and if it is still too pungent for your liking, then add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Taste the vinaigrette for salt and pepper, and adjust the seasoning to your personal preference. Transfer the dressing to a container with a tight fitting lid and place in the refrigerator while you make the salad.
Heat the oven to 160 degrees C (325 F). Scatter the chopped pecans on a baking sheet and toast for approximately 10 minutes, be sure to check the nuts halfway through to prevent them from burning. Once the nuts are a deep golden brown, remove from the oven, and lightly sprinkle them with sea salt. Set aside to cool while you plate the salad.
Place the butter leaves and shallots in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/4th of the salad dressing and toss to combine. Divide the leaves among 2 or 4 plates. Top each plate with equal amounts of blue cheese, cranberries, bacon, and then drizzle the dressing on top of each salad plate.
Add as much or little dressing to the finished plates. If you have any leftover, store in the refrigerator for up to three days. Or you can serve the dressing alongside the salad for guests to add more if the prefer. The dressing is also superb as a dipping sauce for fresh bread as well.
You can make the vinaigrette three days in advance if you prefer, and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator. The dressing in this recipe can also be used for marinades for fish, chicken, and even beef; for the best flavor marinate the protein for a couple of hours and finish cooking the desired meat on the grill.