Monday, July 9, 2012

Best Salad Ever Recipe

Sometimes you want something special for salad and not the same old. So I googled best salad ever which is step one on pretty much everything I make. "Best muffins ever", or "best peanut butter cookies ever"... you have the idea. That's how I found my favorite chocolate cake recipe and how I found my favorite macaroni salad recipe.

But right now I'm into this salad. In a big way. I have made it four times in the last month and every time had people to share it with on top of my family and the same thing always happens. People eat seconds and sometimes thirds of it and are way too stuffed for dessert because it's so good. Then there's still a little leftover for me and I eat it for breakfast so it doesn't get too soggy and inedible. Because I am a good person. And wasting this salad would be a crime.

So here it is, it mostly follows this recipe: Jamie's Cranberry Spinach Salad, but I have modified it to make it amazing by following a composite of suggestions found in the reviews:
  • 1 package (about 1/4 c) of slivered almonds, toasted.
  • 1 apple, finely sliced
  • 1 container of low fat or full fat feta, whatever is on sale. Don't buy the flavored kind, I think that would ruin the neutral creaminess. 
  • 5 generous handfuls of mixed greens, I buy the pre-washed kind to save time.
  • 1 cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
  • 1/4 c white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons minced onion - red is best but yellow is fine. And no chopping. Mince them finely.
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
So here's how I put all this magic together. I grab my biggest salad bowl. I grab 5 or maybe 6 big handfuls of mixed greens and put them in. Enough to fill up the bowl, you want a lot of good greens to soak up all the dressing. I know this salad was intended to be spinach, and you can totally do that, but sometimes I have textural issues with spinach stems and, yeah. I prefer the mixed greens. Next you can finely slice your apple. I peel the apples first, again textural issues with apple peels. Dump in your feta. Dump in the cup of craisins. Now for the toasting. Depending on how much you want to babysit it, you can do it one of two ways. The low maintenance way is to put your almonds on one side of a cookie tray and the 2 TBS of sesame seeds on the other side of the tray. Ten minutes in the oven at 350 F* will toast them all nicely. Or, a faster way but riskier, is to do it in a little pan on the stove top at medium heat, about 3 minutes, tossing and watching frequently and waiting for a little golden color, will work for the almonds. Only about a minute and a half will do it for your sesame seeds. Take them off the heat and toss them again and let them cool, they will continue to cook just a little afterwards due to the heat in the pan. Once you're finished toasting, put the almonds directly on the salad and save the sesame seeds for your dressing compilation. I have a handy plastic dressing bottle that has a wide enough mouth to pour all the ingredients directly into it and when it's done you can shake the crap out of it and it won't leak. Dump in your sugar, poppy seeds, paprika, vinegars, olive oil, minced red onion and your cooled sesame seeds. Shake it, shake it, shake it like a Polaroid picture. Also I like mine slightly chilled so if there is time I put the dressing in the freezer or fridge for a few minutes. You don't want to pour it over the salad until right before you sit down to eat. So delegate the tossing and pouring and tossing to a guest while you get your other stuff done.

This salad *might* be a little extra work but once you've tasted it, barring a life-threatening allergy to almonds... you will feel privileged to make it again. It's that awesome. It's like, this salad chose you. If you are just reading this right now, you are special. Because now you know how to make the best salad ever. And no one can ever take that away from you.

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