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Posted on Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 7 a.m.

Eating a salad on the 8th night of Chanukkah

By Mary Bilyeu

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Tonight is the last night of Chanukkah, and I've indulged in fried foods, dairy products, and even -- in the case of the Ricotta Doughnuts -- fried dairy products. It's been a week of feasting, and I've enjoyed myself immensely!
Blue Cheese, Walnut and Cherry Salad.JPG

Mary Bilyeu, Contributor

But the time has come to engage in some penance. And so, my arteries and my entire system are all crying out for salad, which Jeremy can assure you I actually do eat a LOT of. (If we go out to eat, he will actually sometimes ask me to order "real food" instead of something green and leafy!) Fortunately, salad dressing contains oil -- I can honor the holiday's tradition while still eating my vegetables!

A plain ol' salad with carrots and cucumbers is okay, but not what I crave. I want my favorite -- with blue cheese, dried cherries and walnuts! I can easily make this myself, or purchase one ready-made from Plum or from Pizza House (and, I'm sure, other markets and restaurants). I love blue cheese, as does Jeremy. His favorite variety is the Gorgonzola Cremificata we found at Murray's Cheese during our last visit to New York City; it's smoother and softer than the standard varieties, so it wouldn't crumble sufficiently for this salad ... but it is fabulous!

Anyway .... The combination of salty, pungent blue cheese with sweet dried cherries is really an inspiration; toss in some crunchy walnuts, and you have a perfect assortment of flavors to complement a variety of lettuces in your salad. The cheese honors the dairy tradition of Chanukkah, while the oil in the dressing commemorates the miracle of 1 day's worth of consecrated oil burning for 8 days when the Temple was rededicated after overthrowing the army of Antiochus IV.

A simple sweet, but slightly tart, vinaigrette is the perfect dressing for this salad, complementing all of its ingredients and enhancing each. A purchased fruit-based vinaigrette would work ... but why resort to that when it's so easy to make your own???

Blueberry Vinaigrette

1/4 cup oil 2 tablespoons cider vinegar juice from one half lemon 1 tablespoon honey mustard 3 tablespoons blueberry jam pinch of ginger pinch of kosher salt pinch of freshly ground pepper

Whisk all the ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl until well combined and emulsified. Pour some over your salad, refrigerating leftovers for another time.

Mary Bilyeu has won or placed in more than 60 cooking contests and writes about her adventures as she tries to win prizes, feeds hungry teenagers and other loved ones, and generally just has fun in the kitchen. The phrase "You Should Only Be Happy" (written in Hebrew on the stone pictured next to the blog's title) comes from Deuteronomy 16:15, and is a wish for all her readers as they cook along with her ... may you always be happy here!

You can contact Mary at


Jessica Webster

Fri, Dec 18, 2009 : 11:29 a.m.

I agree - it is so incredibly easy - and so much tastier - to make your own salad dressing. Thanks for the recipe - I will give it a try!