Friday, August 3, 2012

Gorgonzola Salad (Inspired by the Tomato Palace)

The Tomato Palace restaurant in Columbia, Md is one of my favorite restaurants. I've been going there since it opened & I even had my rehearsal dinner there! I get together with two of my friends for lunch at the Tomato Palace a few times a year. Every time we go, Bonnie and Sandy ALWAYS order the Gorgonzola salad. I try to get something new each time I go, but the last time I went there I actually tried the gorgonzola dressing that goes on the salad. At that moment, I finally understood why Bonnie and Sandy refuse to order anything else from the menu.

Bonnie had said she tried to recreate the dressing at home without success. We decided to ask our friendly waiter what was in the dressing, and he asked the chef. The waiter came back and told us the chef said it was just "oil and gorgonzola cheese." So, obviously the chef didn't want us to know what was really in the dressing.

I took a bit of the dressing back with me and I looked up some gorgonzola dressing recipes online. I found one that looked similar, and within minutes Bonnie emailed both me and Sandy with the exact recipe, saying that she thought that it might be the one.

I followed the recipe that we found, and it tasted like the real thing. I made the salad to go along with dinner one night, and it was delicious. My husband told me that the salad was "really really good" when he was eating dinner. Then, later that night, he told me that the cheese was really strong and he wasn't so sure about the salad. So I guess he changed his mind about the salad, and he shall now be known as the moody-eater. Greg is right though, gorgonzola is a strong cheese. But it is so good - and I would say it is much tastier than blue cheese.

Don't worry Bonnie and Sandy, just because we now know how to make the gorgonzola salad it does not mean that we will no longer be meeting at the Tomato Palace for lunch! We still need to get our tiramisu fix...

Recipe for Gorgonzola Salad with Toasted Walnuts

For the dressing
1/4 cup of Extra-Virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. of white balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, pressed
1/4 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese
1/8 tsp. of kosher slat
5 - 6 grinds of freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
3 cups of Baby Romaine lettuce leaves
3 Tbsp. of toasted walnut pieces
1/4 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese

For the dressing:
Pour the 1/4 cup of olive oil into a liquid measuring cup. Add in the vinegar, salt, pepper, cheese, and pressed garlic. Mix well. Pour the dressing into a container and cover. Put in the fridge until ready to use.
For the salad:
Toast the walnut pieces first. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the walnuts evenly onto a baking sheet and cook in the oven for about 10 minutes. Take baking sheet out of the oven and let them cool.
Once walnut pieces are cooled, divide the baby romaine lettuce leaves onto 3 serving plates. Divide the 1/4 cup of gorgonzola cheese crumbles evenly between each plate. Sprinkle each plate with the toasted walnuts. Take the dressing out of the fridge and give it a good stir. Pour the dressing over the salads or serve on the side. Enjoy!

Gorgonzola Dressing Recipe Adapted from Tastebook

Bonnie, Sandy & me outside our favorite restaurant -
the Tomato Palace! 

Do you have a garlic press? I have wasted so much time in the kitchen cutting up garlic, but I finally got this awesome garlic press! It makes cooking (and my life) so much easier.