Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Spinach and Frisée Salads with Sausage Meatballs

A dinner salad doesn’t always mean a light dinner. Like any other dish, it depends on what goes into it. A variety of meats, lots of cheese, a heavy dressing, and oily croutons all add up to a weighty meal—even if it’s called a “salad.”

This recipe does include meat: Italian sausage, and there's nothing light about that. I used one link per serving, but, of course, you can lighten it even further by using only one link (about one-quarter pound) for two servings. The rest of the ingredients are fresh vegetables, dried fruit, and nuts. No cheese.

Italian sausage links are well seasoned and ready to cook, so they make quick, flavorful meatballs simply by removing the casings and rolling the meat into small balls. If you’re serving a pasta dinner, you'll want to make real meatballs

For the dressing, I made a simple, light vinaigrette with white balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. There’s a hint of sweetness to balsamic vinegar and it combines well with sharp Dijon and earthy garlic and shallot.

You can mix and match any salad greens and vegetables you prefer. I chose spinach and frisée because both are hearty enough to stand up to meat and crunchy vegetables. If you want to skip the sausage, this salad would be great with strips of grilled chicken. Or go vegetarian with slices of grilled portobello mushrooms.

Spinach and Frisee
Serves 2


For the Vinaigrette
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
For the Salad
  • 2 mild or hot Italian sausage links (about 1/2 lb total)
  • 4 cups mixed salad greens, such as spinach and frisée
  • 2-inch piece of English cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1 small celery rib, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 small yellow bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips
  • 1/4 small red bell pepper, cut into short, thin strips
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp thinly sliced red onion
  • freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Toppings for the Salad

For the Vinaigrette 
  1. Combine the first 6 ingredients (through red pepper flakes, if using) in a small bowl. Whisk in the extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. 
White Balsamic-Dijon Vinaigrette
For the Salad 
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Pinch the sausage from the casings and roll into small, 1-inch balls (about 7 meatballs per link). (Dampen your palms with water to keep the sausage from sticking.)
  3. Place the meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes. Turn and bake 8-9 minutes longer, until tender and just cooked through.
  4. Remove the meatballs to paper towels to drain and let cool 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, divide the salad greens between 2 dinner plates. Divide and arrange the cucumber slices around the rims of the plates. Scatter the next 6 ingredients (through red onion) on top. Divide the meatballs on top of the salads and drizzle each with vinaigrette.
  6. Grind fresh black pepper on top, if desired, and serve.
Meatballs Ready to Bake
Baked Meatballs
Salad Greens and Toppings

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