Occasionally, guest chefs will share recipes with us for our readers. Here’s a great spring salad by Chef Jay Groton of nearby Gabrielle’s Restaurant that incorporates crumbled gorgonzola – a favorite cheese topping on salads – with Applewood smoked bacon bits, pumpkin seeds, fresh spring greens and a unique dressing. Either a good domestic variety like Black River or an Italian imported gorgonzola will work well here.


Starlight Gardens Greens Salad

Starlight-Greens-Salad-making12 oz. spring lettuce mix
4 oz. crisp Applewood smoked bacon
4 oz. toasted pumpkin seeds
4 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
6 oz. marinated sundried tomatoes
4 oz. Green Goddess dressing (recipe below)

  1. Cut uncooked bacon into bite size pieces.
  2. Render off bacon in a pan on a high heat until you see “foam” in the pan.
  3. Turn off heat and leave pan over residual heat until cooking stops.
  4. Strain bacon and set aside.
  5. Spread pumpkin seeds evenly on a cookie sheet and place in preheated 350 degree oven for 7-8 minutes.
  6. In a large mixing bowl, add together washed greens, gorgonzola, bacon, pumpkin seeds, sundried tomatoes, salt and pepper. Drizzle in dressing and toss lightly until all components are evenly coated.
  7. Place finished salad in a serving bowl and serve.

Note: Chef Jay uses spring lettuces from Starlight Gardens Farm in Durham, which include kale, claytonia, spinach and bok choy.

Green Goddess Dressing
(Makes approximately 1 Cup)
2 oz. fresh tarragon
4 oz. fresh basil
2 oz. fresh chives
1 anchovy
1/8 Cup mustard
1/2 Cup olive oil
3 Tbls white vinegar
1 egg yolk
1/4 Cup sour cream

In a blender, puree white vinegar, anchovies, chives, basil and tarragon. Add mustard, egg yolk and blend again. Slowly drizzle in oil to thicken. Pour dressing into a bowl, add sour cream and stir together.

About the Chef

Chef Jay Groton enjoys creating simple and approachable food. Starting his career washing dishes at a public golf course restaurant in Clearwater, Florida, he moved north and learned “old school” Italian cooking with a co-worker from Westside Market in Rocky Hill, CT. Later, Jay attended the Connecticut Culinary Institute in Farmington, CT, and then graduated to the Culinary Institute of America in Hide Park, New York, which included an externship in San Diego, CA for Croce’s. Prior to his current position at Gabrielle’s Restaurant in Centerbrook, CT, Chef Jay worked at Bricco’s, Sigs, Grants, Straight Wharf with Steve Cavagnaro and Max on Main. Chef Jay enjoys incorporating different styles and techniques from around the world into dishes for others to experience and enjoy. He is continually creating new recipes–many of which appear on Gabrielle’s ever-changing menu. For more on Gabrielle’s, visit www.gabrielles.net.

Chef Jay’s Starlight Gardens Spring Salad
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