Raspberry Spinach Salad

There is a certain someone – and I won’t mention names – who likes to eat his salad without dressing.  Being the normal traditional person that I am, I always dress my salad.  But, to keep everyone happy, I try to find salads that we’ll both like – dressing or no dressing.

The combo of spinach and berries is always a good one and I loved the idea of using raspberries to make the vinaigrette and also tossing them in the salad.  The candied walnuts are addictive and offer a delightful creamy & crunchy, sweet & salty combo when mixed with the goat cheese.  And for those of you who are interested in dressing, this one is definitely a winner.  (Don’t skip the fresh basil – it adds a bright, fresh kick.)

Raspberry Spinach Salad
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Yield: about 4

Ingredients

For the candied walnuts:
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, chopped
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt

For the dressing:
1/6 cup red wine vinegar
1/6 cup fresh raspberries
1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 Tbsp. honey
1/2 Tbsp. minced fresh basil
1/2 Tbsp. shallot, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. olive oil

For the salad:
6 oz. spinach, washed and dried
3 oz. raspberries, rinsed clean
1 cup fresh raspberries

Directions

For the candied walnuts: Place the walnuts in a skillet over medium heat.  Cook, stirring frequently, until nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 5-8 minutes.  Empty the skillet and place the nuts aside to cool.

Pour the sugar into the skillet.  Cook sugar on medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon as soon as the sugar starts to melt.  Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted and the color is a medium amber.  As soon as the sugar is melted and the color is a medium amber, add the walnuts to the pan, quickly stirring and coating each piece with the sugar mixture.

As soon as they are coated, spread them out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Use two forks to separate the walnuts from each other, working very quickly.  Sprinkle the nuts with salt.  Let cool completely.

For the dressing: Combine the vinegar, raspberries, mustard, honey, basil and shallot in a small bowl.  Whisk together well, mashing the berries with the whisk.  Drizzle in the oil, whisking constantly to incorporate.

For the salad: Combine the spinach, raspberries, goat cheese and candied walnuts in a large bowl.  Serve with dressing on the side.

DO AHEAD: The various parts of this recipe can certainly be made ahead.  If I’m serving it for company, I’ll make all the parts in the morning and simply toss them together just before serving.  It’s important to keep the nuts separate from the other parts because you don’t want them to get soggy.

Source: Salad inspired by Annie’s Eats; Candied walnuts from Cooking for Seven and Simply Recipes

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