Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Berry Spinach Salad

I had a version of this in a Vail, CO, restaurant. I tried to find it on the internet just now, but I failed. It was a diner, rather than the usual upscale places you find there. We were tired and didn't want to deal with the energy of an upscale place! We were ready for a simple dinner and some sleep! Ha! I didn't expect more than the usual iceberg, tomato wedges, and some onion rings in a salad, and at that point, I didn't care. (That tells you just exactly how tired I was!) To my surprise, there was the salad I expected, in all it's variations, AND there was a spinach salad with raspberry dressing. And THAT'S what I ordered.

As I ate the salad, I (of course) kept tasting the dressing, trying to figure out the ingredients. I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out more than raspberry. I finally asked, and the server said it was raspberries. I said, yeah, I know, but what else? She laughed and said, nothing, just raspberries. It opened up a whole new world. I would never have thought of using just a fruit and nothing else!

I've used that jumping-off point many times. I've varied the salad ingredients, but never, never the dressing! I have tried other fruits for dressing, with varied degrees of success. Obviously, summer is the best time for berry anything, since they're in season now--and affordable! I made this salad for my daughter, who was visiting me, and it was January. I bought, for a ridiculous price, a pint of raspberries for this dressing and fed her the salad. She took her first bite, her eyes widened, and she said, "This is the best salad I've ever had!" She ate with a look of rapture on her face. And this was Jenna, who eats what's handy and does as little cooking as possible! Ha!

So, enjoy this salad with its amazing dressing!

4 servings

10 oz. baby spinach leaves, washed and drained (Costco's organic baby spinach is great)
1 red onion, sliced into rings and separated
1/2-1 cup walnut halves (I don't use candied ones!)
2 pints strawberries, most halved and 12 left whole (If the berries are all large, you might want to halve them all!)
OPT: 1 pint blueberries

2 pints raspberries

On 4 plates, layer the spinach, red onion rings (you don't have to use all of them--especially if it's a large red onion! Ha!), walnuts--the amount varies depending on your taste, strawberries, and the optional blueberries.

Rinse and drain the raspberries. Toss them into a blender, and buzz until they're smooth. The seeds will still be in there, unless you have a high speed blender (like Vita Mix). The texture of the seeds is good!

Pour equal amounts of dressing over each plate.

Your other option is to pile everything into a salad bowl, pour the dressing over it, and toss. Serve in 4 equal portions. (I usually do this, as it's a lot easier! Ha!)

Either way: enjoy!

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