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Active time
35 minutes
Total time
35 minutes
4 servings

1 cup dry red wine

½ cup packed dried tart cherries (about 2 ½ ounces)

4 leafy thyme sprigs

1 teaspoon sugar

Freshly ground black pepper and fine sea salt

⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper

¼ cup popcorn kernels

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

½ teaspoon red wine vinegar

¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons very good extra-virgin olive oil

½ pound red oak lettuce

2 ounces goat’s milk Gouda, freshly grated (about ½ cup)

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the wine, cherries, thyme, sugar, ¼ teaspoon black pepper and ⅛ teaspoon salt. Gently simmer the mixture over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally and reducing the heat if necessary to maintain a gentle simmer, until the cherries are plump and the wine is reduced to 2 tablespoons, 20 to 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon black pepper, and the cayenne pepper; set aside the spice mixture. Combine the popcorn kernels and vegetable oil in a large deep pot with a lid. Heat over medium-high heat, occasionally swirling the pot to coat the popcorn kernels with oil, until the oil is hot, about 2 minutes, then cover the pot. When the popcorn kernels start popping, occasionally shake the pot back and forth over the burner until all the kernels have popped. Transfer to a large bowl. Immediately sprinkle the reserved spice mixture over the top and, using 2 large spoons, toss the popcorn to distribute the spices.
  3. When the cherries are ready, strain the liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a large serving bowl. Spread the cherries on a plate, discarding the thyme.
  4. Add the vinegar, mustard, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper to the serving bowl and whisk to combine, then add the oil and vigorously whisk until the dressing is emulsified.
  5. Separate the lettuce leaves, tearing the larger pieces into bite-sized pieces. Add the lettuce to the bowl with the dressing and toss to coat, then add the popcorn and toss once more. Adjust the seasoning, if necessary. Distribute the salad among 4 serving plates, then top with the cherries and cheese.

Reprinted by permission from “Salads: Beyond the Bowl” by Mindy Fox

Yield: 4 servings

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