Parmesan Salad Cups

What more could you ask of a year than that it end with a raucous party of booze-induced head fuzz, acid indigestion and sleep deprivation, followed by a day of mind-numbing football and resolutions to never, ever let this happen again.  I love it! 

Yes, folks, I love New Years.  I love it in all its kitschy ball-dropping, sappy auld lang syne, Guy Lombardo, Dick Clark silliness.  It’s all a great excuse to indulge in what I love most… eating and drinking.  As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve no sooner laid down my dessert fork at Christmas dinner, than I’m planning my New Year’s menu, which, by the way, is all about finger foods, which you can’t technically call appetizers or hors d’oeuvre here because they do not precede a larger meal, just more appetizers.  I like that.

I think I did a very bad job naming these little bites of lusciousness.  Yes, they’re little cups made out of parmesan cheese that contain a lovely bit of salad, but gosh darn it, they’re so way much more than that!  These little parmesan cups with their bit of salad are dressed with a balsamic vinaigrette and grated ricotta salata cheese and then topped with a carmelized pecan that wondrously complements the parmesan and will have you grabbing for another before you barely have time to take another sip of champagne and doesn’t it all just sound so fun?

Well, yes it does.  But last year I promised myself I’d never do that again.

Parmesan Salad Cups

Click here for a printable recipe

These are actually quite easy to make, but be sure to make extra pecans.  Those things are addicting!!

Grated Parmesan Cheese

Spring mix salad greens

Balsamic vinaigrette

Grated ricotta salata cheese

Caramelized pecans (see below)

Sprinkle 2 tablespoon-size mounds of the cheese in a large nonstick skillet or griddle (this can also be done on parchment in the oven).  Cook over moderately high heat until lacy and slightly set. Using a thin, flexible metal spatula, loosen and remove and place on an inverted mini-muffin tin.  Let cool until crisp.

Mix your salad greens with the balsamic vinaigrette and place a little in each of the parmesan cups.  Top with a few shards of the grated cheese and top with a caramelized pecan.

Caramelized Pecans

Nonstick vegetable oil spray

3 tablespoons light corn syrup (I use this)

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon (generous) freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 325°F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in large bowl. Stir to blend. Add pecans; stir gently to coat. Transfer to baking sheet.

Place large piece of foil on work surface. Bake pecans 5 minutes. Using fork, stir pecans to coat with melted spice mixture. Continue baking until pecans are golden and coating bubbles, about 10 minutes. Transfer to foil. Working quickly, separate nuts with fork. Cool. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.)

Makes 1 1/2 cups