Baby Spinach with Nut-Crusted Mozzarella
Pan-fried, nut-crusted slices of mozzarella cheese served on a bed of baby spinach tossed with a caramelized onion, garlic, shallot and honey dressing.
2 cups nuts, toasted (such as almonds, pecans, walnuts)
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt - divided use
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour - divided use
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 8 (1/4-inch-thick) slices
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced shallots
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
8 cups fresh spinach, well washed and tough stems removed, and torn into small pieces
- In a food processor, finely chop the pecans. Add 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt and 1/2 cup of the flour to form a coarse meal. Set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the remaining 1 cup flour with the remaining 1/4 teaspoon seasoned salt. Set aside.
- For the egg wash, whisk the egg and milk together in another shallow bowl; set aside.
- Season both sides of the cheese slices with salt and pepper. Dredge each slice in the flour, tapping off any excess, then dip each slice in the egg wash, allowing the excess to drip off; then dredge the slices in the pecan meal to coat both sides. Set aside for several minutes to allow the coating to "set".
- In a medium saucepan, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring, until they caramelize, 10 to 12 minutes. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Whisk in 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the vinegar, and the honey and season with salt and black pepper. Remove from the heat. Set aside.
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Pan-fry the cheese until the crust is golden, 1 to 2 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.
- Toss the spinach with the caramelized onion/honey dressing and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- To serve, divide the greens into 4 equal portions in the center of 4 salad plates. Arrange 2 slices of cheese around the greens on each plate.
Makes 4 servings.