Spring Start Salad ~ with Caramelized Balsamic Dressing, Roasted Nuts, Berries & Goat Cheese
Tough Greens Sweeten Up !
Well, not exactly tough ~ but more hearty than the sweet lettuces of later spring. The kale, beet greens and spinach called for in this recipe can be rather fibrous as adults, but more tender as babies. So springs the recipe!
The spinach is currently exploding, so I’m using it in every meal. This recipe is a favorite, loaded with the flavors of its dynamic, crowd pleasing, caramelized dressing.
Spinach, kale and beet greens, picked small as soon as you’re ready to thin, are a delectable treat. But they also hold their shape under a warm dressing very well. The slightly bitter taste of each adds to the complexity of flavors, which are plenty with the garlic, berry and honey content in the dressing.
Salt and a slight tang in the goat cheese tops the flavor combo…to the point that I’d love to have this salad as a main course regularly ~ if my family would agree.
The balsamic vinaigrette tends to wow guests. Sautéed garlic combines with honey, balsamic and dried fruit to caramelize into a thick, warm syrup.
I first tasted a version made by Julie Libby, former chef and now owner of our local book haven, Trail’s End Bookstore. (Some of our favorite cookbooks from Trail’s End are featured on the righthand sidebar.) I’ve modified the recipe with honey rather than sugar, added some dried berry options and expanded from spinach to a variety of tougher greens.
~Caramelized Balsamic Dressing~
½ cup olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
½ cup dried cranberries, huckleberries or blueberries
1/2 cup honey
Salt and pepper to taste
1~ Sauté garlic in a small saucepan in 1 T olive oil until slightly browned and fragrant.
2~ Mix all other ingredients well and add to garlic on medium-high, stirring frequently.
3~Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to a lively simmer, stirring constantly. Do not let boiling or stirring cease. Allow to thicken until caramelized, about 5-7 minutes.
4~ Let cool for 10 minutes or until just warm and serve. Top each salad with prudent spoons of dressing, tossing lightly with each spoonful (it is very flavorful, so be careful:)
~ Use this dressing as soon as it is cool enough to pour and save the rest to reheat later. It can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and reheated for additional meals.
~Spring Start Salad~
Spinach, Kale, Beet Greens (full sized salad bowl, filled)
½+ cup roasted almonds (or substitute walnuts or peacans)
½+ cup crumbled goat cheese
1~ Roast slivered or chopped nuts for 5 minutes or until just brown. Set aside to cool.
2~ Tear greens in ratio to your liking. This recipe can be made in one bowl, but we recommend plating individually because of the warm dressing ~ the presentation is better and it holds shape in smaller portions. To prepare individual salads: make a bed of 1 ½ cups mixed greens on each plate.
3~ Drizzle ¼ cup warm dressing over top and toss~barely; top with 2 Tablespoons each, cheese and roasted nuts and serve.
NOTE: This salad can be made all year long with standard spinach and kale as well. Try experimenting by substituting different roasted nuts or other tough greens to fit your family’s fancy.
Love from our Kitchen to Yours ~ Georgina @ Caramelize Life
Kale, like spinach, grows quickly in cool spring weather. If your garden is populated with kale, it can be used solely for this salad, or check out a different take on tough spring greens on Sassy Radish. The Tuscan Kale Salad with Pecorino looks divine.
We love to use SUNNY PINE FARM’S Chèvre. Not only do we love the families who tend and milk the goats, but the product is out of this world! Thank you Vicki and Ed Welch for your amazing farm!
Sunny Pine Farm serves the local community with high quality, healthy, organic products. Ph:(509) 997-4812
Up north, the Larkhaven Cheese Farm is superb as well. Their goat and sheep combo feta is mouth watering and would go very well with this recipe.
Larkhaven Farm (509) 486-1199.