Long-Name Salad

by Mara @ What's For Dinner? on September 27, 2011

in simple recipe, South Beach Diet, vegetables

There was a time, very early on in my blogging days, where you would’ve been greeted with a post entitled:

Wilted spinach salad with bacon, red onion, cashews, dried cranberries, bleu cheese, and roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette.


I would’ve frantically posted a dark, slightly grainy, slightly overcorrected photo of said salad, apologized for the lousy photo, and then listed out the ingredients with little more than an “OMG guys this was so good!”

Then, I would’ve gleefully awaited the “ding!” of my phone as comment emails rolled in, praising my originality, my amazing salad-making skills, and how no one ever thought of putting exactly those ingredients in a salad!

But things have changed.

First of all, I know now to keep the name of a post relatively short so that it doesn’t hurt my readers’ eyes. I also now know that the quality of my posts is not measured by the number of comments I receive. I’m much more proud of a delicious meal, no matter how simple or easy it may be, whether or not other people think its AMAAAAAZING!!!!!!

So back to that salad.


This was most definitely not an original idea. It started as a suggestion in the car with my carpool buddy, Erin. After near-non-stop giggling over stupid drivers and balls on the backs of trucks (really), I said “I have no idea what I’m going to make for dinner. Maybe spinach salads?” Erin said “Oh yum! I like to put dried cranberries on mine.”

And the dinner seedling was planted. Wildfire, one of our favorite restaurants, has a delicious spinach salad with warm red onions and bacon. That’s where the seedling grew roots and bloomed into this meal of a salad.


Fresh organic baby spinach topped with sautéed red onions, chopped crispy bacon, herb-roasted cashews, dried cranberries, bleu cheese, and later, avocado.

I made a roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette which, while simple, did what any rug would do in a boring room – really tied it together.

For the herb-roasted cashews, I simply made an aluminum foil packet with a half-cup of cashews in it. I sprinkled them with garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, and parsley and topped them with a drizzle of olive oil, no more than 1.5 teaspoons. I also trimmed the stem-end off of 2 cloves of garlic and added them to the packet as well. I put the whole packet into a 400*F oven for about 20 minutes while I prepared the other salad toppings.


I diced the bacon and fried it until crispy, and then reserved about two teaspoons of the grease to use to fry the onions. About then, the cashews were finished and the garlic cloves were soft and roasted.

The roasted garlic balsamic vinaigrette is as easy as can be:

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic, smashed and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard

Whisk all the ingredients together. Drizzle over salad. Enjoy. (See? Easy!)


I later realized that I might want something a bit more substantial atop my salad, and since we didn’t have any chicken or tofu or meat of any sort, I opted instead for some avocado. I can’t cut an avocado neatly for the life of me, so here’s an artsy photo of the fork and my salad in the background.


It was absolutely delicious. I conveniently have enough ingredients to throw one together for lunch tomorrow, and I also conveniently have a bag of cashews ($4 a pound at the produce market, how could I resist?) laying around just waiting to be eaten. But not all at once.



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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness) September 27, 2011 at 11:21 PM

That looks… AMAAAZINGG!! ;-)

Seriously, I love spinach salads!

And what is it with the balls on trucks? blech
Laura (On the Threshold of Greatness)´s last blog post ..Last Summer Fruits


mary lynne September 27, 2011 at 11:39 PM

That looks fantastic! I’m going to have to try the vinaigrette dressing too.
mary lynne´s last blog post ..A Case of the Mondays


Rhonda September 27, 2011 at 11:50 PM

You crack me up! I know the woes of long names and bad photos. I’ve had many with yellow tint and then when I tried processing them that got that over processed grainy look. Sometimes I still am off the mark. Your salad looks gorgeous no matter what you call it!


Marianne September 28, 2011 at 12:26 AM

Aside from the blue cheese, everything in this salads sounds pretty damn good. I would think a good goat cheese or something else crumbly with some tang would work in place, no?
Marianne´s last blog post ..The Third Farewell


Mara @ What's For Dinner? September 28, 2011 at 5:56 AM

Feta or goat cheese would rock :)


Lauren September 28, 2011 at 6:00 AM

This salad sounds amazing!!! I love grilled onions in salads but rarely take the time to make this ingredient.
Lauren´s last blog post ..You’re Hot Then You’re Cold


Jenn (eating bender) September 28, 2011 at 9:16 AM

My friend, you are my hero. I was reminded of Wildfire as soon as I read that long-name former post title. If you ever feel the urge to come over and make said salad for Bobby and me, please know you are more than welcome. :) Yum!
Jenn (eating bender)´s last blog post ..On Wisconsin + Happy Endings


Mara @ What's For Dinner? September 28, 2011 at 11:28 AM

Any time :) We should have a double date sometime soon anyway!
Can’t wait for Saturday!!!


Dinner at Christina's September 28, 2011 at 2:42 PM

Yum, it really does look delicious (and Ammmaazing!)

I love seeing other people’s salad posts (well, certain people’s…) because it usually gives me ideas about toppings. I get bored of the same nuts/fruits/veggies and their combos. It’s great to see other’s fresh views.

I just have to say it.. even though it’s bad bad bad.. but I probably would have used the bacon fat instead of olive oil in the vinagrette. I couldn’t get it out of my head when you mentioned frying the onions in it. hehe
Dinner at Christina’s´s last blog post ..Wedding Cake Tasting!


Roz@weightingfor50 September 28, 2011 at 3:25 PM

Hi Mara. OMG…love the title of this post. Great looking LONG NAMED salad. And lovely photos!
Roz@weightingfor50´s last blog post ..The trolls are back!!!! View at your own risk!


Biz September 28, 2011 at 3:32 PM

I love spinach salads like that, but you are killing me with the onions! :D

Thankfully I think both of our photography skillz have gotten better – check out this old picture of a black bean corn salsa –

Biz´s last blog post ..T-Pain Microphone and Irish Potato Soup


perudelights September 29, 2011 at 9:02 AM

I really like spinach with blue cheese. This salad looks amazing, I will give it a try asap. Thanks for the recipe and the tips.


Christine November 12, 2011 at 2:50 PM

Hey Foodies, Mara’s Salad recipe has been selected by Knapkins to be featured in a Recipe Guessing Game. Invite fans to play: http://knapkins.com/guess_games/602?source=blog


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