Butter Lettuce Salad with Blue Cheese, Dried Cherries & Candied Walnuts

The walnuts are cooked in a simple syrup until tender, and then quickly fried until crisp.
Publish date:
butter lettuce salad

Recipe by Alison Cayne

Adapted from The Haven’s Kitchen Cooking School by Alison Cayne (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2017.

  • Cook Time
  • Prep Time
  • 12Servings



  • 1 cup crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbsp. finely chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped (about 1 tbsp.)
  • 1/2 clove garlic, finely chopped or grated
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/8 tsp. paprika
  • Fine sea salt

Candied Walnuts

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups walnut halves
  • Canola oil or vegetable oil, for frying
  • Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon, for garnish


  • 2 large heads butter lettuce, leaves torn
  • 2/3 cup soft blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup 1-inch pieces fresh chives


1. For the dressing, in a medium bowl, whisk all of the ingredients until smooth. Season with a pinch of fine sea salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

2. For the candied walnuts, in a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and 2 cups water to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the walnuts and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and the edges of the walnuts are slightly translucent, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to a paper towel to dry. 

3. Pour enough oil into a large saucepan to measure about 2 inches. Heat over medium until a deep-fry thermometer registers 300°. Using a slotted spoon and working in 4 batches, add the walnuts to the oil and fry until golden brown, 45 to 60 seconds per batch. Using the slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to a wire rack. Sprinkle with the flaky sea salt and let cool. 

4. For the salad, in a large bowl, toss the lettuce, three-quarters of the cheese, three-quarters of the cranberries, three-quarters of the chives, and three-quarters of the walnuts. Drizzle some of the dressing over and use your hands to toss, adding more dressing as desired. Season with salt. Top with the remaining cheese, cranberries, chives, and walnuts.