Back in March, my extended family had a birthday party for all the March bdays at the park. We love doing this when the weather is nice because the kiddos can all play nearby and no one has to do the work of hosting our large, loud family (and 400 children) at their house. We all bring a side dish to go with the buckets of fried chicken, and this Stetson Salad With Pesto Buttermilk Dressing seriously stole the show. We all sat down to eat, and as we tasted the salad, people started murmuring to one another, “Dear Lord, this salad is so good!” and “Oh my, what kind of salad is this? Who brought this? Is that couscous? It’s amazing!”
Well it turns out the salad was made by Becky (my cousin’s wife’s mother) who is known for bringing fantastic dishes to our get togethers. The salad was so good in such a different and unexpected way, that I had to get up from my chair in the middle of dinner and seek our beloved Becky out to inquire about the salad. You see, when I taste something really outstanding, I immediately think of YOU ALL, and how I must secure some details so that I can share, share, share.
What makes this salad so good is the combination of textures – crisp greens and veggies, crunchy nuts, creamy cheese – all gently tossed with a really subtle creamy herb dressing. I’ve never had any dressing like this one – it’s a mixture of basil pesto, olive oil, salt and pepper, buttermilk, shallot, and lemon and it’ll knock your socks off. You’ll crave it for weeks, I’m telling you!
As I begin to interrogate Becky about the salad, she sweetly points to a gift bag she had tucked out of the way, and says, “Why don’t you just go ahead and open your present there?” (My birthday is one of the March bdays). Inside the gift bag was the hand written recipe for said Stetson Salad along with a special ingredient that she had ordered from Amazon. You know some people just have the gift of gift giving. Becky knows I’m a foodie, and she knew I would love this salad. So she gave me the gift of a really good salad. Isn’t that the sweetest thing? I thought so.
Did you make this recipe?
Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #lovelylittlekitchen
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- 1/2 cup dry Israeli (pearl) couscous, cooked according to directions and cooled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces (subbed for Roma tomatoes)
- 2 cups arugula
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted hazelnuts (subbed for pepitas)
- 1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled (subbed for crumbled asiago)
- 1/2 cup super-sweet dried corn (see link in post)
For the Dressing
- 1/2 cup basil pesto
- 1 shallot, chopped
- 1 cup buttermilk
- Juice of one lemon
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- While couscous is cooking, heat up olive oil in a medium pan on medium high heat. Add asparagus pieces, and saute for 2-3 minutes, or until just tender crisp. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- In a large bowl, combine couscous, asparagus, arugula, hazelnuts, and feta. Toss with dressing to coat. You will likely have some dressing leftover.
- Just before serving, add dried corn.
For the Dressing
- Add the ingredients except olive oil to a blender. Run the blender, slowly drizzling the olive oil as it blends into the dressing so it will emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon of each).
*I substituted a few of the ingredients with ones I had on hand, but noted the actual ingredients from the original recipe in parenthesis.
Disclaimer: the links in this post for the corn are Amazon affiliate links.