Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer Salad with Simple Raspberry Vinaigrette


This is a recipe I had to share with you because the dressing is so simple, so easy, and so ridiculously good I thought everyone needed to know about it. Last week I wanted to make a raspberry vinaigrette, and rather than buy actual raspberries and cook them down with sugar to make syrup, I decided to be lazy and take a shortcut, and oh gosh was it a great idea.


Instead of berry syrup I put a few tablespoons of raspberry jam in my dressing and the result was fantastic! I knew immediately upon tasting it that I would have to make another batch (and actually measure the ingredients), to share with you.


Though I love making a good, long, laborious dish like pot pie or layer cake from time to time, the reality is that many days I don't get home from work until after seven, which is not the ideal time to start putting together a beef wellington or roasted chicken, so quick, easy fare tends to rule our kitchen on weekdays. Salad makes a great quick dinner. Some chopping, some toasting, some whisking, and you're done! 


But the highlight of this recipe is not necessarily the salad. Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent salad, I love the combination of crunchy almonds, juicy strawberries, and soft blue cheese amongst the crisp spinach. And of course the kale. If I can add kale to a salad without totally ruining the flavor, then I do. Which means I add kale to pretty much every salad. It's healthy and delicious!


But the true star of this salad is the dressing. It's raspberry flavored without being too sweet or artificial tasting like store bought raspberry vinaigrette, but the flavor is still there and the texture is thick and rich and as smooth as the best store bought dressing out there. Plus, it comes together in five minutes and is made of just three ingredients.


While it's wonderful on this salad (S said the dressing blended perfectly with the blue cheese, and he doesn't usually like blue cheese), this dressing would be lovely on just about any salad, so feel free to experiment. I'd even love it poured all over a big bowl of plain chiffonaded kale!



Summer Salad with Simple Raspberry Vinaigrette
Serves 4 large portions

Dressing

1/3 C balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp raspberry jam
2/3 C olive oil

Salad

7 oz kale
7 oz spinach
1 cucumber
4 oz slivered/chopped almonds
12 oz strawberries
6 oz blue cheese crumbles
4 oz dried tart cherries (or cranberries)


First toast the almonds. You can use slivered, sliced, or you can rough-chop whole almonds, which is what I did because I already had whole almonds. Place chopped or slivered almonds in a small, totally dry frying pan and heat over medium low. Stir almonds continuously while cooking until they reach a pale brown color and have a toasty smell. Remove from heat immediately and pour into a bowl to prevent further toasting. Set aside.

To make dressing, combine jam and vinegar and whisk well. While whisking, slowly add in the olive oil. Drizzle it in slowly and whisk thoroughly and fast to emulsify the oil into the dressing. This is the secret of smooth salad dressing. An immersion blender works well for this too.

Wash and dry kale, then stack leaves into a pile of 5-6, then roll a pile to form a kale cigar. Using a sharp knife cut kale cigar into thin slices. They'll unroll into nice chiffonaded kale. Repeat with the rest of the kale. Place kale in a large bowl, add spinach and toss. 

Slice strawberries and cucumber. I cut my cucumber in half prior to slicing so as to have half moon shaped slices.  Combine with kale, add in the dried cherries, toasted almonds and blue cheese, toss until will mixed. 

I like to pour dressing into a measuring cup and allow everyone to add dressing to their individual bowl, that way leftovers store better and everyone gets to pick how much dressing they want. Alternatively, you can drizzle dressing over the whole salad while mixing. Enjoy!

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