Who says winter salads are dull? Karen shares a colourful and seasonal salad bursting with amazing ingredients such as Gressingham Duck breast, berries, toasted walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette. Perfect for an impressive meal for two.
I am not really a “hearts and flowers” kind of person when it comes to Valentine’s Day, I much prefer intimate meals at home with no fuss and bother to overtly romantic meals for two in a restaurant – and if a wandering violinist came to our table to serenade us as we ate, I would be very embarrassed! No, it’s an intimate meal at home in my slippers that appeals to me and it’s simple recipes always win too, with a minimum amount of prep and cooking time meaning I have more time to chill out and relax with my husband.
The recipe I am sharing today, A Romantic Duck Salad with Mixed Winter Berries for Two
, is our favourite recipe for a romantic night in, it’s a seasonal salad bursting with amazing ingredients such as Gressingham duck breast, winter berries, assorted salad leaves, toasted walnuts and a raspberry vinaigrette – it’s the perfect sharing platter when served with a basket of artisan bread and that ubiquitous bottle of Valentine’s bubbly! The brilliant thing about this recipe is that is easy to prepare and assemble and the results belie the fact that you can have it on the table in under half an hour.
The “winter berries” I mention aren’t in season right now, so rather than use imported berries I tend to use frozen berries that are British, which works just as well and saves air miles too. As I have my own soft fruit bushes, my berries are home-grown berries that I have frozen, but I know lots of farm shops that sell local frozen fruit and berries, which are perfect for this recipe. Duck is a rich and quite fatty bird, but by serving it with these winter berries, the sharpness cuts through the richness of the Gressingham duck breast and by pan-frying it, you can drain off the fat (to save for roast potatoes later) and achieve a fabulous crispy skin.
This sharing platter of pan-fried Gressingham duck breasts, fruit, salad leaves and nuts is our idea of a perfect Valentine’s dinner – serve it as a main meal with bread, or as a starter before a light main meal – I hope that you will enjoy it as much as we do every year, and don’t forget the bubbles too!
Duck Salad with Mixed Winter Berries
100g mixed berries and soft fruit (such as raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, and white currants)
75g salad leaves
6 tablespoons raspberry vinegar
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 Gressingham duck breasts, about 175g each
50g walnuts, lightly toasted
Salt and pepper, to season
Lightly score the skin of each breast in a diamond pattern, taking care not to cut into the flesh.
Season the meat with salt and pepper and the skin with salt. Put a dry, heavy-based frying pan over a high heat. Add the Gressingham duck, skin-side down, lower the heat to medium and cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is crisp and golden brown. Turn the breasts over and cook for 5 minutes if you like them pink, or longer if you like them a little more cooked.
Remove the breasts, place onto a board and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Cut them diagonally to make long thin slices.
Arrange the salad leaves on a plate and place the sliced duck breasts over the top of the leaves.
Whisk the raspberry vinegar and olive oil together, and season to taste.
Scatter the berries and currants over the salad and sliced duck breast and then drizzle the dressing over the top, before adding the toasted walnuts.
Serve with crusty bread for a main meal.
Inspired? For many more quick and simple duck recipes visit Great British Chefs' Gressingham Duck page. You'll find helpful videos and other tips on preparing delicious duck dishes for a special occasion.