Spinach salad is my favorite way to eat this leafy green. Topped with fresh and dried fruit, a zingy dressing and a few crunchy, toasted almonds. We’ve all seen or eaten the salad with strawberries, but this spinach salad uses perfectly ripe stone fruit and tangy blue cheese. It is by far one of my all-time favorite salads and you know how much I love a good bowl of greens.
Summer time is when I really enjoy salads. The anemic tomatoes of winter are happily forgotten and replaced with gleaming, juicy, bright red beauties. The delicious, but boring cucumbers can go on hiatus along with their carrot friends.
The same ol’ stuff that routinely finds its way into your salad can go by the wayside to make room for things like stone fruit. Sometimes we are on auto-pilot and occasionally get stuck in a bit of a rut. Considering all of the amazing things available to us in the summer, this is the time to branch out and mix it up.
Making a salad for dinner is a great option. The clean up is pretty minimal and the ingredients are merely a suggestion. Use it as a jumping off point for an idea; if you don’t like an ingredient, swap it out for something you do like. Perhaps the most important reason to go with a meal that takes about 10 minutes from start to finish – being able to pile everything into a bowl and call it a day.
SPINACH SALAD WITH NECTARINE, FIGS, BLUE CHEESE & ALMONDS
Generally speaking, most of us are less inclined to spend hours in front of a stove during a 90+ degree heat wave. The air is stagnant. It just hangs there… completely still, while your tolerance for anyone within a 5 foot radius decreases exponentially by the minute. That’s not just me, right? The thought of anyone touching you when you are slicked with that layer of summer “sheen” that doesn’t go away until October… No thanks. I just want to live in the pool, with this salad close by.
For the Salad
- 3 oz fresh baby spinach, a little more than half of a 5oz container
- a handful of toasted, sliced or slivered almonds
- 5 -6 dried figs, sliced in half or quarters
- 1 ripe nectarine, pit removed & thinly sliced
- 2 oz blue cheese, broken into bite size pieces
For the Fig Vinaigrette
- 1/2 shallot
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 3 tbsp fig balsamic vinegar, not the sweet, reduced balsamic glaze
- 1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 3/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tsp whole grain mustard, optional
- kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
- In a blender (or with a stick blender) combine all ingredients EXCEPT oil. Blend on medium speed until thoroughly combined, then lower speed and slowly drizzle in olive oil until blended.
- Pile everything on top of your spinach, drizzle dressing & eat.
There are only 5 ingredients in this salad, so make sure they are of the best quality you can get. Spring for the good cheese, don't buy the stuff that is already crumbled. It tastes like Styrofoam. Make sure the nectarine is ripe & luscious, under ripe fruit doesn't have any flavor.
Normally when I make this salad, I add in crispy prosciutto. Place a few paper-thin slices of prosciutto on a non-stick (Silpat) silicone baking sheet if you have one or parchment paper if you don't, put this on a rimmed baking (cookie) sheet and bake at 350 degrees until super crispy.
Fresh mozzarella works beautifully in this salad if you don't like blue cheese. As with the blue cheese, get the good stuff, not the shredded cheese in a bag that you would throw on a pizza.
USED IN THIS RECIPE
- Fig Balsamic Vinegar – this is the stuff I use. It’s a bit spendy, but it’s REALLY good.