The Recipe: A big dinner salad, fresh and green with a rainbow of fruit and g-o-r-g-e-o-u-s Maple-Glazed Pecans, all lightly dressed in a Fruity Vinaigrette. It works for one or two but scales for feeding a crowd.
The Conversation: How to construct a late-winter salad in the Midwest.
Mine is a northern soul but come February, I pixel-peer with envy into the eden-esque citrus gardens of California and Florida. Grapefruit, tangerines and oranges, oh! the oranges. And lemons. The wonder of those trees, such abundance, fruiting with such abandon.
Not here, though, not here in the Midwest.
Constructing a late-winter fruit salad here in the Midwest is tricky. I love our dear family companion Olga's Winter Fruit Salad that uses frozen fruit: it's a godsend but also more of a dessert fruit salad, a light end to a special meal. And there's a winter-fruit version of Mexican Fruit Salad, easily sourced tangerines, apples, pears, bananas and pomegranate with savory spices.
Here though, I envisioned a savory salad, fresh and green, a big dinner salad that easily scales from dinner for one or two to feeding a crowd. With dark-green spinach leaves for their slight bitterness (Vegetables 101: What Are Bitter Greens?). And a rainbow of bite-size sweet fruit pieces, all fresh, none frozen, fruits easily found in supermarkets this time of year. A burst of sweetness from gorgeous Maple-Glazed Pecans.
Outside, the earth is soaking with snow melt. Just yesterday it was too icy to walk in the morning but by afternoon, the streets filled with cabin-fevered school kids on bicycles, parents pushing strollers and too-long cooped-up dogs pulling against their leashes. Soon, truly, it shall be spring and then, turn, turn, turn, summer shall follow. But until then, there's salad, fresh and green and full of life and hope.
CHOOSING FRESH FRUIT Some fruits will "hold" better than others if prepped up to four hours before serving: apples, pears, mango, kiwi, orange sections and pomegranate seeds. Others will do better if added to the fruit bowl just before serving: blueberries, strawberries, say. Oranges are especially good in this salad. In January, we were gifted some honeybells (thank you, Charlie and Jan!), a mix of tangerines and grapefruit, they were gorgeous. I halved them and cut out the sections with a grapefruit spoon. They were so sweet and juicy, we even skipped the Fruity Vinaigrette! If you can identify seedless oranges at the grocery, they're also good. Pears usually need to sit on the counter for two or three days before they're ready to eat. The "big" fruits (apples, pears, mangoes) are better choices when feeding a crowd because if you use the whole fruit, it adds up to a whole pile of fruit. For one or two, better to stick with individual fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, etc. – or choose small fruits or save the leftover fruit for smoothies! "Where there's a will ..."
MAPLE-GLAZED PECANS Recipe here, Maple-Glazed Pecans! They're gorgeous! Otherwise toasted nuts work beautifully or look for small bags of sweet nuts near the salad greens at the grocery store.
SPINACH SALAD with FRUITY VINAIGRETTE,
FRESH FRUIT & MAPLE-GLAZED PECANS
Time to table:
Serves 12 (easily divided for fewer servings)
- 3 tablespoons fruity vinegar (raspberry, orange, etc.)
- 1/2 tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon dried basil, crushed between your fingers
- 1/4 teaspoon good salt
- 1-1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
(enough for two Spinach Salads)
- Juice of a lemon
- Red-skinned apple, diced small
- Green-skinned pear, diced small
- Mango, diced small
- 2 kiwi, skinned, sliced and halved or quartered
- 2 seedless oranges, sliced (How to Cut an Orange for Slices)
- Other fruit ideas: pomegranate seeds, fresh pineapple chunks, blueberries, sliced strawberries, fresh avocado
- 12 ounces fresh spinach leaves, stems removed
- Fresh Fruit, half to mix in, half for the top
- Maple-Glazed Pecans half to mix in, half for the top
- Fruity Vinaigrette, a tablespoon at a time
FRUITY VINAIGRETTE In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, basil and salt. With one hand, pour the olive oil into the bowl in a steady stream, whisking it in with the other hand. Taste and adjust seasoning. Can be made ahead of time to store in the fridge but return to room temperature before dressing the salad. Makes about 5 tablespoons, you won't use it all for this salad.
FRESH FRUIT Up to four hours before serving, toss the lemon juice and fruit to prevent both browning and drying out. Keep at room temperature, stir occasionally.
SPINACH SALAD In a large bowl, gently toss the spinach, half the Fresh Fruit and half the Maple-Glazed Pecans with the Fruity Vinaigrette, a tablespoon at a time, until it's the "right" amount of dressing to your taste (I use about half the dressing). Top with the remaining Fresh Fruit and Maple-Glazed Pecans.
LEFTOVERS If left undressed, the combined spinach leaves, Fresh Fruit and Maple-Glazed Pecans will keep for a day or two in the refrigerator.
Fruity Vinaigrette Only, Per Tablespoon: 42 Calories; 4g Tot Fat; 1g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 116mg Sodium; 1g Carb; 0g Fiber; 1g Sugar; 0g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 1.
Spinach Salad & Fruity Vinaigrette, Per Serving: 57 Calories; 1g Tot Fat; 0g Sat Fat; 0mg Cholesterol; 47mg Sodium; 12g Carb; 2g Fiber; 8g Sugar; 1g Protein. WEIGHT WATCHERS POINTS WW Old Points 1 & WW Points Plus 2.
Spinach Salad & Fruity Vinaigrette & Maple-Glazed Pecans, a tablespoon of Maple-Glazed Pecans adds one point, either Old Points or PointsPlus.
A Real Gift: A Giant Salad Bowl
We are the keeper of the family's "big salad bowl" – the gift of cousin Laura, who so often brings salad ingredients to big family get-togethers and found our small salad bowls, shall we say, wanting? Much to my surprise, I pull it out all the time!
The interesting thing? Having an abundance of salad seems to encourage people to help themselves to big servings, some times to start a meal, some times to end it. The salad is often long gone, leaving the sweets lonely for attention.
This Week, Years Past 2002 - 2013
Chicken Cacciatore (<< personal favorite) Greek Feta Chicken Mushroom Soup Pork & Poblano Skillet Gashouse Eggs My Mom's Pancake Recipe Homemade Spaghetti Meat Sauce Sugar-Free Raspberry Bliss Orange-Kissed Marshmallows No-Big-Deal Homemade Chicken Stock
This Week, Elsewhere
More Spinach Recipes
More Fruit Salads for Late Winter
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