An Easy Warm Salad to Make: California Grape & Pancetta Salad

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An Easy Warm Salad to Make: California Grape & Pancetta Salad

June 1, 2024
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An Easy Warm Salad to Make: California Grape & Pancetta Salad

Our Warm California Grape & Pancetta Salad with Walnuts is a flavor and texture bomb you didn’t know you needed! Some crisp butter lettuce and juicy strawberries mix with warm and savory crisp pancetta, toasted walnuts, dried apricots, and pleasantly warm, slightly jammy California table grapes. Tying it all together is creamy goat cheese and a tangy dressing. With each bite better than the last, this sultry, warm salad is sure to be the new it-girl of summer!

What is a Warm Salad?

A warm salad is the love child of fresh leafy greens and comforting, cooked elements. Every bite is a perfect juxtaposition of texture, temperature and flavor. Think of it as the rebellious sibling of the classic cold salad, adding a touch of warmth to your bowl while still keeping things light and nutritious. It’s a warm, satisfying salad that eats like a meal.

The Ingredients in This Warm Salad

A head of lettuce growing at Vessey & Company farms.
  • Butter Lettuce: The leafy green base of our salad provides a blank slate for the other components. Both tender and crisp, each bite of this leafy green is palate-pleasing.
  • California Strawberries: These juicy gems add a sweet and tangy punch to every bite. Once they come in contact with the salad dressing, they start to macerate, creating a crave-worthy mouthfeel and flavor.
  • Dried California Apricots: The apricots we sourced from Fairhaven Orchards add a touch of sweetness that pairs perfectly with the savory elements.
  • Crispy Pan-Fried Pancetta: This protein brings an irresistible crunch and savory flavor.
  • California Walnuts Toasted in the Drippings from Pancetta: Add a rich, nutty flavor.
  • Red Table Grapes and Fresh Thyme Cooked in the Drippings from Pancetta: The grapes become slightly jammy and literally burst with flavor.
  • Creamy Goat Cheese: For a creamy, tangy finish you can’t beat!
  • Salad Dressing: The remaining pancetta drippings are combined with California Extra Virgin Olive Oil, grainy mustard, honey, and lemon juice, then seasoned to perfection.
Grapes from California

A Word About California Extra Virgin Olive Oil:

Want to be sure your olive oil is fresh, the highest quality, and the real deal? Look for the COOC seal on bottles of California Extra Virgin Olive Oil to make sure you’re getting delicious 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Certified California EVOO uses stricter standards than international requirements, requiring the oil to pass chemical testing and a sensory analysis by a group of experts, called an organoleptic panel evaluation.

Cooking with Olive Oil - bottle with COOC seal
Justin Topete tending to table grapes at his Central Valley vineyard

When Are Table Grapes in Season in California?

California table grapes are typically in season from May through January. This long growing season means you can enjoy the crisp, juicy goodness of fresh grapes for a significant part of the year. If you’re curious about the journey of California table grapes from vine to table, check out this article.

How Do Strawberries Grow in California?

California strawberries grow in various regions, ensuring a year-round supply. They thrive in the Golden State’s fertile soil and favorable climate. Farmers plant them in raised beds covered with plastic sheeting to protect the fruit and enhance growth. The result? Plump, juicy strawberries that are a delight in any salad. For a deeper dive into the cultivation process, take a look at this article.

How Are Walnuts Grown in California?

Walnuts are a staple in California’s agricultural landscape. These nuts grow on trees that require a lot of care and attention. Once the nuts mature, they go through harvesting, hulling, then drying – perfection! This ensures these nuts will add a delightful crunch to your warm salad. Want to know more about how these nuts are grown and harvested? This article has all the details.

Why This Warm Salad Is Perfect for Almost Any Time of Year

Whether you’re looking for a nutritious meal in the fridged depths of early January or a simple recipe to enjoy on a late summer evening, this warm salad hits the spot. It’s versatile, easy to make, and truly showcases the best of CA GROWN produce. Plus, it only takes about 20-25 minutes to prepare, making it a delicious recipe for busy weeknights.

Customer looking at a clamshell of grapes in a grocery store

Choosing CA GROWN produce means you’re selecting some of the freshest and highest-quality ingredients available. Almost every ingredient in this salad hails from the Golden State, from the table grapes and strawberries to the walnuts and dried apricots. Want to learn more about how to look for CA GROWN when shopping? Check out the articles below.

What’s In Season in California?
Here’s a chart showing the seasons of some of the most popular California crops, so you know what to look for in the farmer’s market and grocery store.
Check out this guide!
California Grows More of These Crops Than Any Other State
You know California grows and produces a lot of food – but did you know that the Golden State leads the nation in dozens of crops and commodities?
Check out this guide!
California leads the nation
19 Crops That Are Grown Only in California
These crops aren’t just CA GROWN…they’re grown ONLY in California.
Check out this guide!
Always in season: Here’s what’s available year round in California!
These California commodities are always in season, and never go out of style.
Check out this guide!
California dried fruit and nuts close-up Always in Season: California Year Round: crops and food available year round from the state of California Always in Season: California Year Round: crops and food available year round from the state of California

Quick and Easy: A Simple Warm Salad Recipe for Busy Lives

This warm salad is delicious, I think that’s clear, but it’s also quick and easy to prepare – and that matters when life is busy. With good and good for you ingredients that are readily available, and a simple preparation process, you can have a nutritious meal on the table in no time.

Why You Need to Try This Warm Salad Recipe

Warm salads like this one offer a delightful twist on traditional salads. They combine the best of salad freshness with the heartiness of cooked ingredients, resulting in a dish that’s satisfying and full of incredible flavor.

Our Warm California Grape & Pancetta Salad with Walnuts is a perfect example of how warm salad recipes can elevate your meal game. It’s a great recipe that’s nutritious, easy to make, and perfect for any time of year.

Like to whistle while you work? Check out this California Grown Spotify playlist:

BE SURE TO SHARE YOUR BEST WARM SALAD RECIPES WITH US BY SNAPPING A PIC AND TAGGING US ON SOCIAL USING #CAGROWN.

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The finished warm salad with dressing ready to serve.

Warm California Grape & Pancetta Salad with Walnuts

Meg van der Kruik
This recipe is a delightful blend of crispy pancetta, toasted walnuts, and lightly cooked grapes, all layered over butter lettuce with fresh strawberries and dried apricots. The salad is finished with a tangy mustard-honey dressing and dotted with creamy goat cheese, making it a perfect combination of savory, sweet, and tart flavors.
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Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Main Course, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 6 servings
Calories 279 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

For the salad:

  • 1 head butter lettuce roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces pancetta diced
  • ½ cup walnuts roughly chopped
  • 1 ½ cup California grapes washed
  • 2 cups strawberries sliced, about 8
  • 4 dried apricots thinly sliced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 2 ounces goat cheese

For the dressing:

  • 1 TBSP rendered pancetta fat
  • 2 tsps whole grain mustard
  • 2 tsps honey
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • salt to taste

Instructions
 

Cook the pancetta, walnuts, and grapes:

  • In a large skillet, cook the diced pancetta over medium heat until crispy, about 5-7 minutes.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set it aside on a paper towel-lined plate, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet.
  • Add the roughly chopped walnuts to the same skillet with the pancetta fat.
  • Toast the walnuts over medium heat, stirring frequently, until they are golden and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the walnuts from the skillet and set aside.
  • In the same skillet, add the California grapes and thyme sprigs.
  • Lightly cook the grapes over medium heat until they start to soften and are warmed through, about 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove the grapes from the skillet and discard the thyme sprigs.

To make the dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk together the whole grain mustard, honey, and lemon juice.
  • Gradually drizzle in the rendered pancetta fat and olive oil while whisking continuously until the dressing is well emulsified. Season the dressing with salt to taste.

Assemble the Salad:

  • On a large serving platter or salad bowl, layer the roughly chopped butter lettuce.
  • Evenly distribute the cooked pancetta, toasted walnuts, cooked grapes, sliced strawberries, and thinly sliced dried apricots over the lettuce.
  • Drizzle the dressing over the top of the salad.
  • Finish by dotting the salad with crumbles of goat cheese.

Video

Notes

Storage:
Serve immediately.

Nutrition

Calories: 279kcalCarbohydrates: 20gProtein: 7gFat: 21gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 7gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 19mgSodium: 182mgPotassium: 387mgFiber: 3gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 1258IUVitamin C: 41mgCalcium: 56mgIron: 2mg
Keyword leafy greens, salad, salad dressing, table grapes, warm salad
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