Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cranberry Spinach Salad

by Darla

I have a short, sweet, and simple post for you today that pretty much speaks for itself. The hubster and I have been trying to spice up side dishes around here lately, because ours have gotten awfully boring and repetitive. One recipe that I’ve made a few times recently is an old one that I forgot about and dug out a couple of months ago. The recipe is for a cranberry spinach salad, and I have to be honest, I have no idea where it came from. I didn’t make it up, but it’s one of those recipes that makes the rounds and is good enough to keep around, especially if you tweak it to your tastes. Over time, I’ve adjusted and substituted and experimented with various things in this salad, but in the end, it’s just a simple mix of the same ingredients. This fresh spinach salad is garnished with cranberries and almonds, and tossed with a sweet and savory homemade dressing. Obviously, I strayed very far from baking, but technically, there’s some toasting involved here that takes place in the oven, so I’m gonna let it slide. ;) This is a quick, simple salad, that tastes much more impressive than you would expect for something so easy. There’s only a few ingredients, and you probably already have most of them around the kitchen. The almonds can be substituted for just about any other nut that you like, but this is especially good with pine nuts and walnuts. First up, spinach. I think fresh spinach is so beautiful…so vibrant and green. You’ll want to rinse the spinach thoroughly before using it. I also like to spread mine on paper towels and lightly pat any excess water away. Then I allow it to air dry for a few minutes while I make the dressing. The almonds (or other nuts) will be toasted before use, as well as the sesame seeds. Both the nuts and the seeds will be toasted at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. To keep my sesame seeds separate from the almonds, I make a small, square foil “bowl” to hold the sesame seeds. I place that on one end of a baking sheet, then I spread the almonds on the other end, and I’m able to toast them together. The dressing is incredibly simple to make. I have this dressing maker that makes it even simpler, but even if you don’t, you can easily shake this up in a mason jar, or just whisk it together in a small bowl. You’ll just combine olive oil, white wine vinegar, cider vinegar, sugar, the toasted sesame seeds, and a little paprika, then whisk or shake until the sugar is completely dissolved. For the salad, you’re going to toss the clean spinach with the toasted almonds, some fresh diced onion, and dried cranberries. Now pour all of the dressing over the salad and lightly toss to combine. This is such a fast, easy salad that is a nice departure from the plain old side salad, or bagged salads. It only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, including the time it takes to toast the nuts and seeds. Everyone loves it and it’s very easy to double, making it large enough to be a meal, or serve to several guests. Enjoy! Spinach Salad Makes 4 side salads Ingredients FOR THE DRESSING 1/4 cup olive oil 3 tablespoons sugar 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar 2 tablespoons cider vinegar 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted (350 degrees for 10 minutes) full pinch paprika FOR THE SALAD 1/2 lb. (8 ounces) spinach, rinsed 1/2 cup fresh, finely diced onion 1/2 cup dried cranberries (I use Craisins) 1/3 cup blanched and slivered almonds (pine nuts or walnuts are also excellent), toasted (350 degrees for 10 minutes) After rinsing the spinach, pat lightly with clean paper towels to remove any excess water. Set aside to dry further while you make the dressing. To make the dressing: In a small bowl, or a jar/bottle with a tight lid, combine the oil, sugar, vinegars, sesame seeds, and paprika. Whisk or shake well, until thoroughly combined. To make the salad: Toss spinach, onion, cranberries, and almonds in a large bowl until combined. Drizzle all of the dressing over the top of the salad and toss gently to distribute it evenly throughout the salad. Recipe adapted by Darla

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Caroline @ chocolate and carrots April 13, 2011 at 9:09 am

Nothing like a colorful spring salad! :-D Beautiful and vibrant. Yum!

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2 Raynata April 13, 2011 at 9:31 am

I love cranberries on salads! It adds a nice little sweetness to the dish. I’ll have to try that dressing too!

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3 Lucy @ The Sweet Touch April 13, 2011 at 11:02 am

I love that salads seem to taste good no matter what!

I recently made a spinach salad with blue cheese crumbles, strawberries, blueberries and a balsamic reduction – so tasty!

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4 Melinda April 13, 2011 at 2:56 pm

Simple spinach salads like this are the best. My mom always makes one with cranberries, granny smith apples, cashews and a sweet celery seed dressing – it’s always gone immediately from every holiday dinner. This looks delicious.

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