Istanbul Salad with Walnut Honey Mustard Dressing

One of my favorite things about traveling is trying local foods at the places the locals eat.  You learn so much about a culture through their food.  The way it is prepared lends insight to the community built around that preparation and consumption.  Sometimes its awkward {like when the waiter has to come over to show you how to eat your meal} and sometimes you just end up randomly pointing to something and taking a chance, but I’ve yet to have a downright terrible experience.

A few months ago, on our trip to Istanbul, we ate at this great modern Turkish restaurant, Lokanta Maya {website is in Turkish}.  They use all local, seasonal ingredients and come up with a new menu of simple, yet delicious dishes daily.  My favorite bit of the meal was our starter–a salad with pears, figs, fresh goat cheese, and nuts.  It was fresh, flavorful, and surprisingly filling {which was good because my chickpea stew was loaded with carrots}.  My first order of business when we got back, after doing the washing, was to recreate that salad.

I changed a few things based on what I had on hand, and I couldn’t recreate the dressing {I don’t know what magical yumminess they had in that thing}.  As a re-creation it wasn’t a complete success. However, the resulting salad was still amazing–delicious in its own right.  Its different from the original but still fresh, flavourful, and very filling.

Istanbul Salad with Walnut Honey Mustard Dressing

The Toppings
1 firm pear
2 figs
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp brown sugar
5-6 walnuts

The Dressing
{adapted from Tupelo Honey Cafe’s Pecan Vinaigrette recipe}
5 walnuts
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 tsp whole grain sweet mustard
2 tsp whole grain spicy mustard
1 clove of garlic
1 Tbsp honey
salt and pepper
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup olive oil

The Salad
mixed field greens
¼ cup blue goat cheese, crumbled

Get started by shelling all of the walnuts and set them aside.

Start heating the frying pan on medium heat while you peel and slice the pear into thin slivers.  When its hot, melt the butter in the pan then add the pears and half of the brown sugar.  Cover the pan and let the pears cook for 10 minutes to get them nice and soft, stirring occasionally.  While the pears soften up, you can go ahead and crank out that dressing.

Using a food processor, grind up half of your walnuts until they are the texture of course meal.  Empty them into a small bowl and set aside.  Add the vinegar, mustards, garlic, and honey to the food processor and blend.  One tablespoon at a time add the oil, blending in between additions, until all the oil is added.  If you have one of the fancy food processors where you can add it as it blends, even better.  Do that! But I don’t, so I do it one tablespoon at a time.  Put the nuts back in the food processor, give it a blend, and you’re finished.  Now back to the toppings.

Thinly slice the figs and add them, along with the remaining walnuts, to the pears. Sprinkle with the rest of the brown sugar and give them a gentle stir {the figs are a little fragile}.  Let them candy up for about 4 minutes and then remove them from the heat.

While your figs are getting yummy, wash your greens if they haven’t been washed yet and divide them between your two bowls.  Add your toppings and dressing, and top the whole thing off with those delicious bits of crumbled blue cheese.

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