At Poppy’s house, we start most meals with a salad. More often than not, the greens used are baby spinach or a blend of baby spinach and spring mix. Spinach ranks number 2, right below kale as the healthiest salad greens. But unlike kale, spinach doesn’t constantly remind you how healthy it is while you’re eating it.
If we are making even a pretense of eating healthy, the last thing you want to do is use some store-bought dressing packed with calories and chemicals, especially since making a basic salad dressing is so simple and quick. If you have the ingredients handy, I would say 30 seconds, maybe a minute if you’re listening to some good jazz, having a glass of wine and dancing around the kitchen (just sayin’).
My go-to dressing is a variation on the basic Balsamic Vinaigrette:
3 parts good quality EVOO to 1 part balsamic vinegar – use more or less vinegar depending on your “tart tolerance”.
1 or 2 teaspoons of Dijon Mustard.
This is where Poppy (sometimes), steers this recipe away from the traditional version … I add enough fresh ground Parmesan (whisking the dressing briskly) till it becomes a slurry.
You can take it a step further by adding some chopped red onion.
Sometimes I toss the greens with the dressing, sometimes I just drizzle it over the top … can’t miss.
Lets jump to the fun part. We have stretched our canvas (the greens), primed the canvas (the dressing), now it’s time to get out our paints.
- cheeses: Parmesan, Feta, Mozzarella, etc.
- halved grape tomatoes
- peeled sliced cucumber
- orange or tangerine chunks
- pine nuts
- almond slivers
- grilled Piquillo peppers
- red onion
- watermelon chunks
- olives: green, ripe or Kalamata
- coarse ground black pepper
You can mix these any way you want, some pair very naturally (Feta cheese and Kalamata olives for example), but don’t hesitate to experiment. If you keep enough of these paints (ingredients) on hand, your salads will never be boring.
I’m strong to the fin-ich, Cause I eats me spin-ach– (sorry couldn’t resist)