Sunday, February 9, 2014

Bacon-Berry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette


And now it's time for a little Q & A with A Love Letter to Food.

Q: Dear Love Letter to Food, is it okay for a salad to taste like candy?


A: YES.


ABSOLUTELY. NO PROBLEM WITH THAT AT ALL.

This salad is the proof. I've been making it for years and it's probably my favorite way to eat greens. And even though it tastes like something that dropped out of a piƱata, I'm pretty sure it's actually fairly healthy. After all, you can't argue with spinach, orange slices, almonds, and cranberries. (As for bacon and cheese, well, I guess you can argue about those...but only if you want a salad filibuster from yours truly.)  

Q: What's the best part of this salad?

A: Possibly the highlight of this colorful, mostly healthy melange is the zingy raspberry dressing. Salad dressing is one of those foods that, once you start making it yourself, I believe you'll never go back to store-bought. (Others include taco seasoning, chicken broth, and pumpkin butter.) Whipping up a small batch for one-time use ensures a freshness you just don't get from the bottle that's been sitting in your fridge for two years. (I mean, doesn't it seem kind of counterintuitive just how long certain "perishable" foods like salad dressing can theoretically be held in a refrigerator?) The muddled raspberries in this particular dressing give it a special sweet-tanginess that goes well with a host of other foods, including the cheesy bread we had as a side with this salad the other night. You could also try it on chicken breast or pork loin. 

Q: Does that mean the chicken or pork loin would taste like candy?

A: Yes. No problem with that at all.

Bacon-Berry Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette
(Dressing adapted from Allrecipes.com)

Ingredients:

For the salad:

6 c. fresh spinach
1/2 c. dried cranberries
1/2 c. slivered or sliced almonds
1 large orange, peeled and sliced into bite-sized pieces
8 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled 
1 c. crumbled feta or goat cheese

For the dressing:

3 Tbsp. raspberries
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp. white sugar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp. oregano
1/8 tsp. black pepper

Directions:

1. In a large bowl, toss spinach with cranberries, almonds, orange slices, bacon, and cheese.

2. To make dressing, mash raspberries, then add all other ingredients and whisk or shake well in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.

3. Toss salad with dressing, or serve on the side.

Serves 4.

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