Coming from a Liberal Arts background, I’ve been trained to connect the dots and leave doors open for other ideas and possibilities. Because of this, I never choose a favorite anything. Not a favorite movie, not a favorite meal, nothing. How could I say something is my favorite when I haven’t explored every possible option available? And what stops something new from becoming my favorite?
Well ladies and gentlemen there is one dish that stands alone in my relatively empty box of favorites- Chinese Black Pepper Salad. This salad is so delicious I could seriously eat the entire bowl myself! And it isn’t just me who feels this way either. My cousin and I routinely fight over it during the holidays because two plates worth just isn’t enough.
The salad is fresh and light, the nuts are buttery, and the chow mein noodles are so delightfully crispy. Then tossed with the sweet yet spicy vinaigrette, I think I’ve gone to heaven. IT. IS. DELICIOUS. Not even kidding. This is my favorite salad of all time!
The recipe was handed down to me from my paternal grandmother, Grandma Gail. She routinely makes this salad at summer barbecues and I could never get enough of it. It was only once my cooking interests peaked that I finally asked for the recipe. It quickly has become a classic at my family events. It also is popular with our friends who routinely grab a copy of the recipe on their way out.
Plus it’s easy!
Start by browning cashews, sesame seeds and almonds in butter. (I didn’t have sesame seeds on hand today so they were not included in my salad). Sesame seeds, as well as any other kind of nut really, are best bought in bulk. I have a membership to a superstore where I always buy nuts and olive oil. It costs more up front but will save you in the long run.
Then I combined the salad dressing components in a mason jar.
Then shook well.
Then you toss all remaining components together and your salad is complete! Yum!
Prep time 25 minutes, Serves 6
- 2 tbs. butter
- 1 cup split cashews
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 2/3 cup slivered or chopped almonds
- 2 lbs lettuce (I use green leaf)
- 1 bunch chopped green onions
- 1 can chow mein noodles
- 1 package crushed ramen noodles
- 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 2/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tbs. ground black pepper
- 2 tsps. seasoning salt
- Place a pan on medium to medium low heat. Melt butter in pan. Add cashews, sesame seeds and slivered almonds to the pan and brown in butter 3 to 5 minutes. Once browned, remove pan from heat and set to the side.
- Next prepare the salad dressing. Combine red wine vinegar, sugar, olive oil, black pepper and seasoning salt. Mix thoroughly until vinegar and olive oil are fully combined.
- In a shallow dish, open ramen noodle packet. Discard seasoning mix. Crush noodles until they are in small pieces. In a large bowl, place lettuce and chopped green onions. Add in chow mein noodles and ramen noodles to the mixture.
- Pour reserved nuts on top of the salad mixture and toss entire salad with the dressing just before serving.