I have found that if I have one (or maybe two) dishes that included what I like to call “WOW factor”, I can keep the rest of the meal simple.
Attention to detail is important. After all when you invite someone to your home, they should feel special, like you went to some effort for them. You don’t actually have to go to a lot of effort, but it should look like it.
Do anything and everything you can, ahead of time. Nothing is worse than arriving at someone’s home in hopes of a lovely evening only to find the host or hostess all stressed out, it sets an uncomfortable tone. I make as many components of my dinner party ahead as possible and even set the table the night before.
Don’t be afraid to take a little help where you can. Using pre-washed salad greens is no crime, neither is using pre-chopped vegetables. As long as the food you serve is good, no one will care (or even know) what shortcuts you took.
It should be a little out of the ordinary of a regular dinner. I like to change things up – serve the salad after dinner or add a cheese course. These do not require much effort yet can turn your dinner into an experience rather than just a meal!
This salad fits all of the above requirements; it has WOW factor, attention to detail (without much effort), can be mostly made ahead, uses a shortcut and if served after the main course is like a combo salad and cheese platter all in one. Plus it is really pretty!
What makes this salad dinner-party-worthy is it has all the elements of a great salad; crispy, tangy, crunchy and a hints of sweet and salty. What really puts it over the edge is the pistachio crusted goat cheese balls. Oh sure, you could just crumble on some goat cheese and throw in a handful of pistachios but then it wouldn’t be quite so special; plus the combination of creamy, tangy goat cheese with the salty, crunchy pistachios eaten with a forkful of flavorful greens and a berry or two gives you bliss in a mouthful. It takes maybe 10 minutes to make the pistachio goat cheese balls, you can even do it a day or two ahead and they most certainly add “WOW factor”!
Make the dressing ahead of tmie and store it in a little container in the fridge. Buy pre-washed baby salad greens and just toss everything together right before serving – simple! Plus you can get away with a really easy main dish like a perfectly roasted chicken and some potatoes and your guest will still feel you went to a lot of effort.
Gluten Free Pistachio Berry Goat Cheese Salad Recipe
¼ cup roasted, salted pistachios, chopped
6 ounces goat cheese
½ cup sliced strawberries
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 – 2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces pre-washed baby lettuce salad greens or spring mix
1 pint raspberries
1 cup blueberries
Place the chopped pistachios on a plate. Divide the goat cheese into 16 equal pieces (about 1 teaspoon each) and roll into balls. Roll the cheese balls in the pistachios. Can be made up to 2 days ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate.
Put the strawberries in a blender with the vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, olive oil and a pinch of both salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and creamy. Taste and add more honey, salt and/or pepper if desired. Can be made a day ahead. Store in a small jar or covered container and give a good shake before using.
Put the salad greens in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing. Add the raspberries and blueberries and gently toss. Divide the salad among 6 salad plates and top each with 4 pistachio goat cheese balls.
This gluten free recipe serves 6 people.
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