Aug 3, 2014

Fancy Salad is Not as Hard as It Looks - Utilizing Store Bought Ingredients to Create Restaurant Quality Greens

Ever fancy those restaurant quality salads topped with all sorts of yummy ingredients such as dried fruit, walnuts, cheese, and even seafood? Tired of plain old combo of salad greens with store bought dressing? 

A nice (and photogenic) salad is actually not hard to make, especially when you have most of the common ingredients such as raisins and walnuts stored in the cabinet. I was actually looking for fresh duck breast to use in this salad recipe. However, it's not a common item here in Taiwan, even though later on I did sign up for a food importer's membership, which they carry a wide variety of quality meat products. Luckily I came across smoked duck breast in the grocery store, even better! Smoked version adds more flavor profile to the salad and save a lot of searing plus cleaning work for me in the kitchen. 

Let's see how this fancy salad was created with my assembling skills -

Ingredients (for two)?

  • 1 box of salad mix
  • 1/4 small smoked duck breast
  • 1 orange
  • 10 walnuts
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
  • Small pinch of salt
  • Small pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • Small handful of dried cranberries
  • Some goat cheese (I used feta)


Mix the balsamic vinegar together with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Easiest way is to add all these ingredients to a container, close the lid, and start shaking. You can even put the dressing in the fridge first and shake again right before drizzling on top of the salad greens.

Take a pan and toss in the walnuts. Evenly pour about 1 tablespoon of honey on the walnut and turn to medium heat. Lightly toast the walnuts till the honey gets stickier. The walnuts will stick onto the pan, just pick them up and toss onto the salad right before serving.

I used an orange for this recipe, but other kind of citrus such as tangerine and grapefruit work as well. The picture below shows that the orange was separated in half because I wanted to eat some while cutting the other half into segments. 

The easiest way to get clean cut citrus segments is to cut off both ends first. Run the knife along the peel from top to bottom, removing all the white section. Carefully cut right next to each membrane in order to pull out the segments. Once done, set the segments aside or squeeze the juice from the leftover part then store the segments in its own juice. 

Slice the smoked duck breast into about 1/3 inch thickness -

If using fresh duck breast, score the skin and season with salt and pepper. Sear with skin side down first till golden browned then flip over to sear the other side. Once the meat gets slightly browned color, remove the breast from heat and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes before slicing. 

We're all ready move on to the assembly line. Toss the salad greens with balsamic and olive oil dressing, plate the greens onto the serving plate. Sprinkle the honey toasted walnuts and dried cranberries. Arrange the duck breast slices along the edge. Lastly, which I didn't remember till half way through my meal, add some goat cheese crumbles throughout -

The fresh citrus segments really make a difference by adding more moisture to the bites. Goat cheese also adds extra saltiness and creaminess for the rather plain greens.

Glad I noticed something was missing (my goat cheese!), at least my last few bites were completed with every ingredient -

Most of the ingredients can be stored or even prepared ahead. Next time, when you're craving for some fancy salad, why not try to make it yourself?


  1. Gorgeous salad perfect to stand alone as a meal :)

    1. Thank you so much!! I ate the whole thing myself haha!