Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spinach Salad

This is what I made for lunch today, a delicious spinach salad.  I halved this recipe and made two large salads for my husband and I.  We both loved it!  What a tasty combination….spinach, bacon, red onion, candied pecans, dried cherries, and a sliced apple.  The vinaigrette is a keeper because it's perfectly balanced and I always have these ingredients in my pantry.  I found this recipe on the wonderful blog Mel's Kitchen Cafe.  I follow a LOT of recipe blogs via email.  What I love about recipe blogs is that each day as I go through my emails, I see these delicious food photos and I'm inspired to cook.  Not all the recipes turn out for me but the ones that do I like to share and hope they inspire you too.  

    16 ounces baby spinach
    ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
    6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled 
    1 cup Feta cheese crumbles (blue cheese or goat cheese works well too)
    1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
    1 Honey Crisp apples, cored and sliced thin
    Sweet Spicy Nuts:
    1 cup whole pecans
    1/4 cup granulated sugar
    Pinch of cayenne 
    Pinch of salt
    Red Wine Vinaigrette:
    1/4 cup red wine vinegar
    1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
    1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely minced
    1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
    1 teaspoon sugar
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    Fresh cracked pepper to taste

  1. For the dressing, shake all the ingredients together in a mason jar until well combined.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. The dressing will keep for a week in the fridge.
  2. For the nuts, lightly toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven for 5 minutes. (This step helps the nuts heat up so that when they go into the melted sugary syrup the syrup will coat them and not seize up because the nuts were too cool)  While the nuts toast, place the sugar, cayenne and salt in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Cook the sugar mixture until it liquefies completely, adjusting the heat to low.  (Don't rush this as the sugar will take time to melt and if the heat is too high it will burn quickly.)  Once the sugar is melted, right away toss in the toasted nuts and stir to coat the nuts with sugar.  Transfer nuts to a plate to cool completely.
  3. To assemble the salad, toss all the salad ingredients together along with the cooled nuts.  Just toss right before serving. Enjoy!
Serves 6

I have a favorite way to dress my salads.  I put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl with a fitted lid.  Drizzle on a little salad dressing, close the lid, and shake.  Start out with a little and add more if needed.  I know, an extra bowl to clean BUT the salad is perfected coated and you don't end up with a soggy over dressed salad.

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