Spring has finally sprung! Well at least for the majority of us I think, but I know that sometimes April can be surprising. It certainly has brought it’s fair share of late snow or cold snaps to where I’m from in Tennessee, but I don’t have to worry about that anymore now that I live in Southern California. If it snowed here, I’d hate to see how people would drive considering how terrible they are in the rain. I digress.
Spring brings the desire not to be tied to the kitchen cooking a hot meal. It brings the desire for cool and fresh ingredients. All of the spring/summer fruits and veggies are starting to come into season making that a bit easier as well. For this dish, I wanted to go simple, but I also wanted to remind myself of this dish I often order from a local Italian restaurant. It’s the kind of salad that is filling without bringing too much. Although I usually order it with a bit of blackened chicken for extra kick. I wanted to make this dish Lent friendly though so the chicken would have to be nixed.
Just because I nixed the chicken didn’t mean I had to get rid of the flavors I love. Spinach pairs well with so many things that just make me want to squeal with delight such as dried cranberries, pecans (pe-kans, being the Southerner that I am), and goat cheese. I felt like ever bite was almost sinful, but it was so delicious I couldn’t stop eating it.
This is the kind of dish that is easy to fix on those nights when ou don’t have a lot of time for dinner, but it still feels extraordinary. It’s like eating out at a nice restaurant while staying at home. It’s decadent without being costly. Note that you can also add a little bit of lemon juice to brighten it up. I didn’t to the original recipe, but I tried it a little later and it was devine.
CRANBERRY GOAT CHEESE SALAD
- 3 tbsp pecan pieces
- 3 tbsp dried cranberries
- 1/2 bag baby spinach
- 1/4 red onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup red wine
- 1/4 package goat cheese, cubed
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1. Saute pecan pieces over medium heat stirring often until lightly toasted. Set aside.
- 2. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and the red onion. Cook until they become tender and start to go translucent.
- 3. Add red wine to the pan to deglaze the onions, stirring frequently. Set onions aside.
- 4. Combine remaining olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in a bowl and whisk until combined.
- 5. In a mixing bowl, combine spinach, pecans, cranberries, onions, goat cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette from step 4. Toss to combine.