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.