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Aged Provolone and Piquillo Pepper Salad with Romaine Leaves and Grilled Fig-Mustard Vinaigrette

Servings: 8


For Pickled Red Onion:
1 cup boiling water
1 medium red onion, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced lengthwise
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano leaves, crumbled
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 whole cloves

For Vinaigrette:
8 fresh figs, cut in half*
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1-1/2 cups olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon aged sherry vinegar
2 pounds sliced Wisconsin aged provolone cheese
1 jar (12 ounces) Spanish piquillo peppers, drained, julienned
16 crisp romaine leaves
Cracked black pepper

Cooking Directions:

For pickled red onion: Pour boiling water over onion in a small bowl. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Drain onion well and return to bowl. Stir in orange and lime juices, white wine vinegar, oregano, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cloves. Set aside.

For vinaigrette: Heat gas or charcoal grill to medium heat. In medium bowl, toss figs with 2 tablespoons olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill 2 minutes per side. Put grilled figs in food processor with mustard, honey and sherry vinegar. Process until pureed. With motor running, slowly add 1-1/2 cups olive oil. Season to taste.

Final preparation: Cut cheese into 1/2-inch strips. In large bowl, toss cheese strips and peppers with 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette. Arrange 2 romaine leaves on each plate. Top with cheese-pepper mixture. Drizzle some of the remaining vinaigrette on the plates, being sure to dress the romaine. Finish plate with cracked black pepper and some pickled red onion.

*If fresh figs are not available, pour 1/4 cup boiling water over 10 chopped dried figs; let stand until cooled. Continue with recipe, using figs and water.

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