Sunday, September 20, 2009

Divine Intervention Mandarin Salad With Hearts of Palm, Toasted Pine Nuts & A Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

When our (now) grown children were growing up, we spent every summer at our lake house on Lake Buchanan, in the Texas Hill Country. It had been in my hubby's family since the lake and Dam were first built back in the 1940's. The wonderful *Austin chalk* rambling ranch style house with 4 bedrooms & 3 baths was built by his maternal grandparents in one the first private gated communities ever. Our boat docks were within yards of the house & there was an outdoor sink area to clean fish and keep bait buckets full of minnows in the water. Summers there were always magical.

Every year the excitement about the lake started even before school was out, each of us planning what we'd be taking with us and by the time we did actually make our road trip to the lake, we very much resembled the Beverly Hillbillys. With hubby and I, there were also our two kids (usually each with a friend in tow), our Cairn Terrier Lulu, an unfortunate a fortunate teenager to be my *Mother's Helper* for the summer and our two cats, along with so much stuff  that the Suburban was literally about 5 inches off the ground. It rather resembled a circus to those who witnessed us en route, especially with the full luggage rack on top of the car and animals and kids hanging out the windows amidst the happy chaos.

Anyway, I always had the worst time trying to remember what I already had in the pantry and freezers at the lake, as I was preparing to head there or whether we were going in the direction of home and I was trying to remember the same about home. Of course, this was in the days before cell phones and personal computers and iPods, so we actually had to rely on the hand written lists we made, then good luck finding that list when it was the next time to go to the lake. I could never find mine. So, I began stocking canned items that I could use to throw together a quick side dish or two, which saved me from having to make the 1 hour round trip drive into town (Burnet, TX) the minute we arrived and got the car unloaded. You see, we always brought beef, chicken & pork from home, but knowing we'd get better veggies there, we seldom took them with us. Besides, we also had a veggie garden that our caretaker started for us every year.

The canned items I kept were mandarin oranges, pine nuts (in a jar), hearts of palm, and some other less unusual items, which really made my life a bit easier, like tomato soup, crackers, broth, pasta & sauce, etc. Since we had butter lettuce and spring onions growing at the lake, we almost always had this salad with dinner upon every arrival. That way, I could get us all settled in, making a list as I went, then make the long trip into town and the store the next morning. This is why I called it the Divine Intervention Mandarin Salad.

I don't believe I know anyone who hasn't adored this salad. The combination of all the ingredients, along with the dressing, never fails to leave a parade of flavors exploding in your mouth. So, let's get after it, shall we?

Divine Intervention Mandarin Salad With Hearts of Palm & Toasted Pine Nuts:


1 head of butter lettuce (torn to your size preference)

1 head of red leaf lettuce (torn to your preferred size)

1 can of Hearts of Palm, drained & thinly sliced

1 can of Mandarin orange slices, drained

1/2 cup of pine nuts, toasted

1-2 bunches of green onions, thinly sliced (with some darker green too)

Gorgonzola cheese (or bleu cheese), crumbled (Sometimes I even use Feta cheese or Parmesan, depending on what I have available.)


Assemble ingredients and toss with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette. Recipe is below.

Honey Mustard Vinaigrette:


Larado's Sweet & Hot Oriental Fire & Lace Mustard ~ OR ~ your favorite honey mustard

fresh extra virgin olive oil

your favorite balsamic or red wine vinegar

salt and pepper to taste


I wish I could give you actual measurements, but that just isn't the way I roll when making homemade salad dressings. It's all about your taste, baby! Actually, I think I use like six parts olive oil, 2 parts vinegar, and 8 parts honey mustard. I put all the ingredients in a canning jar and shake, then taste, but don't trust me on that. I can barely remember my name half of the time.

Just do a little experimenting to decide how you prefer it. You can always store the extra dressing in the lidded jar, in the fridge.


lisaiscooking said...

Sounds like a great summer tradition and a great salad! I love honey mustard vinaigrette too.

Mags said...

Well shoot... you can't argue with divine intervention! Looks lovely!

We had a Cairn terrier too.. until we had to put him down a few years back. Now we have a Cairn/Shih tzu mix,if you can imagine. All the ornery of the cairn mixed with the neediness of the shih tzu. It's crazy!