There's a cooking school in a big 'ole black barn, on a rolling meadow, at the top of a hill in North Carolina near where I live called The Barn. A day at The Barn NC will lift your spirits, inspire your culinary efforts, introduce you to new and fascinating people, and fill your tummy with yummy deliciousness.
Kristin Jorgensen is the chef/creator of a farm-to-table experience using brand new recipes in fabulous, fresh foods from the best purveyors in this area. Her recipes are always simple and delicious. You can participate in their making or enjoy watching her do her thing as she entertains with stories of life, love, and making a business in the countryside. And she has generously shared some favorite recipes with me!
Think a salad needs lettuce? Think again. Your tongue will do the happy dance with this fall salad...
Fruit + Nut + Cheese Savory Salad
This salad is actually a template for using whatever's in season to play three key roles: sweet-juicy fruit, crunchy- salty nuts, and chewy-fatty cheese.
- 1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted nuts
- 3 T (or more) extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 T (or more) honey
- 1 T finely-diced shallot
- Kosher salt + freshly-ground pepper
- 2 tsp. (or more) vinegar (not balsamic) (I like to use Sherry)
- 6 oz. semi-firm, salty cheese
- 1 1/2 lb. ripe fruit
- Maldon salt for finishing (Maldon salt is actually smoky salt flakes. Look for it at The Spice House)
Combine oil, honey, shallot, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a little bowl and whisk until combined. Dressing should be sweet and fatty and lip-smacky and spiced. Adjust with more oil, honey, salt, pepper, and/or vinegar until you're pleased.
Break up cheese into pieces or thinly slice, as you wish. Cut fruit into 1/4"-thick wedges or rounds and place on a platter or large plate. Sprinkle with salt. Tuck in pieces of cheese; spoon dressing over GENEROUSLY. Allow to sit briefly and then sprinkle the nuts and herbs over generously and serve.
Some favorite combinations:
- Citrus slices and supremes, ricotta salata, dates, pistachios, and mint
- Bosc or D'Anjou pears, parmesan or really creamy blue cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and thyme*
- Persimmon, mild, crumbly blue cheese, and pecans
- Figs, walnuts, Manchego, and basil
- Strawberries, candied walnuts, gorgonzola or fresh goat cheese, and thyme
- Watermelon, pistachios, feta, and mint
- Apples, sharp cheddar, toasted or candied walnuts, and thyme
- Fresh peaches, fresh goat cheese, toasted pecans, and mint or basil
*This is the combination I'm showing off in the picture above!
This bonus recipe is simple and delicious and perfect to add your own personal touches to...
Sweet Potato Crostini
- 2 sweet potatoes, each about 3 inches in diameter, cut into 1/8-inch rounds
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and freshly-ground pepper
- 1/4 lb. good quality blue cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts, pecans, or walnuts, toasted
- 3 T fresh rosemary or thyme leaves
- 1/4 cup honey
- Maldon salt for sprinkling (see note above)
Preheat an oven to 350 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, toss together the sweet potatoes and olive oil to coat lightly. Arrange the potato slices in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, using a second lined baking sheet if needed. Season generously with kosher salt and pepper. Bake for 30 minutes, then flip the slices and bake until crispy and golden brown, about 15 minutes more. If using 2 baking sheets, rotate them between the racks and from front to back half way through baking. Let cool slightly.
To assemble the crostini, top the sweet potato slices with blue cheese, walnuts, and herbs. Drizzle with honey and sprinkle with the Maldon salt.
We love to give credit to: The Barn NC