Blogging to: Not the background noise of television, because Ben moved it to the bedroom.
May is National Salad Month. So, as April winds down and we get ready for May, my mind turns to all the yummy things that are now sprouting up out of the ground.
So, in May’s honor, I’ve made a yummy, fun, fruity, nutty salad for Dole National Salad Day (which is May 1). I’m calling it……drum roll…..my fruity and nutty salad! I know I know, not exactly an inspiring name, but if I did one of those numbers where I just named the salad after all of the ingredients I used, it would have been named: baby spinach salad with dried cranberries, Gorgonzola, and red wine-candied walnuts in a raspberry balsamic vinaigrette. Quite the mouthful, so fruity and nutty salad it is!
And this little diddy contains one of my absolute favorite greens…..
Spinach! (The baby variety, in this case.)
To start, we get to candy the walnuts. This was such a fun, scary, and rewarding process. We begin with the nuts and wine…
This was the perfect use of that leftover Manischewitz wine that was sitting around from Passover. The stuff is so syrupy sweet, it does the job perfectly. If you don’t have Manischewitz, you can buy it for $3 a bottle or just use whatever sweet red wine you have on hand. Make sure you like the taste of it, though, because you’ll be reducing it down and concentrating its flavor. If it’s a wine you don’t like, the walnuts will be ruined. Ruined, I tell ya!
Pour a cup of the wine into a sauce pan and bring it to a boil. You’re going to reduce it down and boil the wine for about 7-10 minutes, until it starts to get thick and syrupy. At that point, add ze valnuts.
I liked to use big shelled walnuts, here. Once they’re in the pan, turn the heat off and toss them around in the syrup.
Evacuate the walnuts and turn them loose onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then, let them cool. I actually stuck them in the fridge for about 10 minutes.
These walnuts are absolutely amazing. The glaze is like a red wine caramel, if there could ever be such a luscious and delicious thing. It pulls apart like caramel and when you bite into the walnut, it’s chewy, sweet, and still crunchy. The best part is that the glaze sticks in your teeth like good caramel does, but it tastes like wine! (If you have expensive dental work, consider yourself warned.)
To make the dressing, I combined thawed raspberries (previously frozen), balsamic vinegar, oregano, honey, and olive oil into a blender and whizzed it until it looked like a salad dressing. Pretty straight forward there.
The Gorgonzola was a much-needed flavor to combat all the sweet and sticky in the salad, and since Ben insisted on blue cheese over feta, that’s what I went with. (But, between you and me, feta would have been just fine.)
This salad is a perfect way to kick start National Salad Month with fresh spinach, Gorgonzola cheese crumbles, and the real star of the show - walnuts candied in sweet red wine.
- FOR THE SALAD:
- 1 bag of baby spinach
- Gorgonzola cheese crumbles (to taste), or regular blue cheese crumbles
- Dried cranberries (to taste)
- 1 cup shelled walnuts
- 1 cup Manischewitz wine, or other sweet red wine
- FOR THE DRESSING:
- 1 cup frozen raspberries, thawed
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsps honey
- For the candied walnuts, pour the wine into a medium sauce pan on high heat and bring to a boil. Continue to boil for about 7-10 minutes until the wine reduces by half and becomes really thick and syrupy.
- Add the walnuts and stir to coat.
- Place the walnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and allow and put in the fridge for 10 minutes to cool.
- When the nuts have cooled, break them apart with your fingers and set aside.
- To make the dressing put the raspberries, balsamic vinegar, oregano, and honey into a blender. Begin blending and slowly pour in the olive oil in a steady stream through the top.
- To assemble the salad, combine the baby spinach, Gorgonzola, dried cranberries, and candied walnuts. Drizzle with the salad dressing and serve.