watermelon radishes, candied walnuts, and the best salad ever

October 26, 2010 |  Category:   recipes seasonal

I finally made a visit last weekend to a friend’s restaurant. It’s in Bushwick, a neighborhood as close to the middle of nowhere as you’ll find in Brooklyn. They serve some delicious seasonally inspired food that definitely makes it worth the trip. One of the appetizers I tried was paired with a watermelon radish salad that inspired me to make a nice salad for dinner the next night. Too often salads in our house consist of merely lettuce, cherry tomatoes, dressing and croutons. Making a truly special salad requires a little more effort and adding these candied walnuts are always just the thing. The nuts are tossed in a hot sugar syrup infused with spices, then baked in the oven until crisp. While they’re baking I like to give them a stir or two, to encourage the sugar to form crystals which form an extra crisp coating. These went into a salad along with some thinly sliced tart apples, watermelon radish, golden beets, pomegranate seeds, and fresh lettuce with a sherry vinaigrette. Other nuts will work with this recipe, but walnuts and pecans seem to work best.

Candied Walnuts (makes about 2 cups)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 cups walnut halves or pieces

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Bring the sugar, water and spice to a boil, then stir in the nuts. Stir them together for a few seconds, turn off the heat, and remove the nuts from the syrup directly onto a baking sheet lined with lightly oiled parchment paper. Bake in the preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until they are crisp and any syrup on the pan is bubbling. Stir the nuts once or twice while baking if desired. The more you stir the nuts during baking, the thicker the sugar coating will be. Remove them from the oven, give them one last stir, then let them cool completely. They can be used in salads, desserts, or just for a snack. Different spices may be used as well – try cayenne or chipotle pepper for a spicy version.

Sherry Vinaigrette (makes about 1/2 cup)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tablespoons sherry vinegar
1 small garlic clove, pressed or grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon Tabasco

Whisk all ingredients together. Dress the salad as needed and refrigerate any unused dressing.

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  • wsake October 26, 2010 at 4:20 am

    that plate! so gorgeous!

  • kribss October 26, 2010 at 7:04 am

    YUM! can’t wait to try these recipes!!

  • erica October 26, 2010 at 8:52 am

    that looks delicious – and the plating is beautiful. i’m making this for dinner tonight!

  • Emma October 26, 2010 at 9:16 am

    This looks too pretty to eat!

  • Annie October 26, 2010 at 10:16 am

    MMMM…. it looks so fresh and tasty
    Candied nuts are great with any salad.

  • Adele {modernemotive} October 26, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Oh yum, it looks delicious. Pretty styling too.

  • tiina { sparkling ink } October 26, 2010 at 10:34 am

    It’s like a piece of art. Looks so good! Yum!

  • Nicole Franzen October 26, 2010 at 10:48 am


  • Rowaida Flayhan October 26, 2010 at 10:49 am

    Gorgeous plate and looks sooo delicious. Love your photos, beautiful!
    Best Regards

  • Tracie~My Petite Maison October 26, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Lovely in every way

  • Angie October 26, 2010 at 11:47 am

    it does look like it’s the best salad ever! so pretty.

  • Christie October 26, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    Looks and sounds good. Can’t wait to try this recipe.

  • Cynthia October 26, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    Thanks for the lovely pictures of the best salad ever! It has a little of everything, and those watermelon radishes are really beautiful…they remind me of watermelon tourmaline. I really enjoy your recipes, so thanks again for sharing. A salad is just what we need here in blustery WI today where the winds are between 35 – 45 mph, and may possible go higher. The wind actually blew the slide off the playstructure this morning just before the boys went to school. Looking forward to making the candied walnuts and vinegrette dressing this week.

  • Dinah October 26, 2010 at 12:33 pm

    Whoa. That salad is ridiculously pretty. Good Lord.

  • Maria @ Scandifoodie October 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    This looks so gorgeous! I love walnuts. Really LOVE walnuts! 😀

  • Michelle October 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    So beautiful! I’m eager to make this work of art as well! Tell me, how did you prepare the beets before you added them to the salad?

  • kickpleat October 26, 2010 at 5:40 pm

    Yes, this looks like the best salad ever! Beautiful.

  • Luann October 26, 2010 at 11:14 pm

    Thank you, that looks absolutely delicious. I’ll have to try it this week!

  • Lara October 27, 2010 at 2:45 am

    Yum! Nice, Mark!

  • jennifer October 27, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Most beautiful salad ever. So funny, we just visited a friend in bushwick that lives on the same block as northeast kingdom and he said it was great. will definitely have to go back and try it now that it’s been mark (+jenna?) approved!

  • elissa @ faucethead October 27, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    i’m drooling…
    doesn’t hurt that the colors are beautiful as well.

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