There’s nothing like a gorgeous salad that makes me want to get up and run a marathon. Or maybe take a brisk walk down to the ice cream shop.
But if your salad isn’t gorgeous enough, it’s likely not as healthy as you think.
The trick is creating a salad with contrasting colors, and typically, the brighter the color, the better for you it becomes. Spinach is better than iceberg, carrots are better than bacon…you get the picture. But beware of the salad strangler! Don’t cover up all that color with gloppy dressing or you might have a heart attack before you can make it out the door for your banana split.
If you’ve never been able to find a store-bought vinaigrette that holds a candle to your creamy favorite, don’t despair. I have just the dressing for you. This homemade honey Dijon vinaigrette has won over many o’ hearts…even those who swore they’d never love anything but Ranch. It’s super easy, and it’s probably the single most requested recipe I own.
If you use bagged lettuce and spinach (which I always do), this salad takes about 10 minutes to whip up. It’s a perfect side dish for just about anything, but it’s also a fabulous entree salad if you want to throw in some grilled chicken, pork, steak…whatever you’ve got, especially left-overs from the fridge. The dressing can be used with any salad fixins’, depending on what your kids will eat. Mine love cranberries and toasted almonds. The mild flavor of the feta is also perfect for kids…it’s not over-the-top like bleu or Gorgonzola, but still gives a great little zing. Apples and pecans are another good combo with the feta.
Now I know there are some folks who refuse to eat rabbit food, as my sweet brother-in-law Chris likes to call it. Chris lives on a farm, he’s a former professional athlete, and he’s got a Super Momma wife (my amazing sister) who grows an annual vegetable garden that would send Giada into fits. But he won’t touch rabbit food with a 10 foot rake. Go figure.
For the rest of us who need gorgeous greens to function, try this salad. It’s got a great balance of flavors and is stocked with protein. Or you might just use the dressing as the inspiration for your own concoction of vegetables, fruits, and nuts. Then pull on those skinny jeans and shake that booty all the way down to the ice cream shop. The marathon can wait.
Cranberry Almond Salad
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 10 minutes
Ingredients: (all measurements are approximate…use as much or as little of everything as you like!)
- 2 oz. sliced almonds
- 4 oz. romaine lettuce (I use the bagged variety)
- 4 oz. baby spinach (also bagged)
- 2 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (about a handful)
- 2 oz. dried cranberries (you can usually find these near the raisins)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar (or your favorite vinegar…red wine vinegar and apple cider vinegar both work well)
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
- pinch of salt
- fresh ground pepper (to taste)
- Spread sliced almonds evenly on your toaster oven’s baking pan (or a regular rimmed baking sheet if you don’t have a toaster oven) and bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or until almonds begin to brown.
- Meanwhile, combine romaine and spinach in a large bowl. Sprinkle feta and cranberries on top.
- Remove almonds from oven and allow to cool.
- In a small bowl, wisk together olive oil, vinegar, honey, Dijon, salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle almonds and dressing over the top of the salad, and toss. Add more pepper to taste.