Blueberry Cashew Salad with Herbs

My blog under went some late night changes, or rather early morning changes, at say 3am ish yesterday. You may have noticed the new picture at the top. I decided the blog needed something new, something more fitting to me, my food, my writing. I know what you’re thinking, “If that picture serves as any representation of the food on this blog, what can the food possibly taste like?”. Delicious and, most of the time, homey and simple, is the answer. At least that’s what I like to think. That being said, I also decided last night to eliminate some old posts I wasn’t absolutely in love with. While the decision was perhaps induced by the late hour and my recent lack of sleep, it was made because I want to make sure every recipe on this blog is something I would want you, my reader, to make. Something you’d want to make so badly, that as you’re reading you’re asking yourself whether you have all the ingredients in your kitchen or whether you’ll have to make a super quick trip to the grocery store. But enough of me rambling. Let move on to more important things, like the recipe you just may have all the ingredient for…

…and that recipe happens to be a salad. Yes, a salad. Believe it or not, I like salad. I don’t like them when I’m working all summer at a camp in middle-of-nowhere New York and it’s all I eat every lunch and dinner for nine weeks because I can’t stand white pasta and platters of questionable meat. Take for example, this summer. Luckily about midway through my epic camp experience the nurse started giving me sunflower sprouts she was growing in the infirmary. That added some momentary excitement to my salads and inspired me to start growing my own, which I have yet to start doing. I’ll start though. I promise.

Despite the seemingly endless number of salads I ate in the all too recent past, I clearly have not been entirely turned off from them seeing as how I’m posting, after only a week of being home, a salad recipe. My standby salad involves dried cranberries and walnuts over a bed of whatever kind of leafy greens I can find in the fridge. Occasionally I’ll add sliced apples or some blue cheese but I’m usually quite content with just my cranberries and walnuts. But there’s one problem, the cranberries and walnuts always fall to the bottom of my bowl. While it makes for a pleasant surprise when I finally reach that point, it also means the rest of the salad can be kind of bland. That is, unless I’m up for a challenge during lunch. You know, just a normal lunch in the life of Jessica, digging around for the cranberries and walnuts hidden under a pile of salad and then, once found, battling to keep them on my fork while I attempt to stab a piece of oh so abundant but unruly greens.

The solution, however, was an easy one. Chop the nuts and dried fruit finely enough that they’ll cling to the greens but not so finely that their crunch and chew will be lost. After the salad’s structural problem was solved, up came the ingredients for debate. Tired of eating the same thing I decided to go for a change of pace. Inspired by one of my favorite granola bars, the Blueberry Vanilla & Cashew Kind bars, I opted, clearly, for blueberries and cashews. And that was the end of the story. Almost.

The idea for fresh herbs, which add just the necessary touch of complexity to this salad, came from Melissa Clark’s recipe for “Hello, Salad (Tender Greens with Herbs and Hazelnuts)” in her cookbook, In the Kitchen with a Good Appetite. I’ll take this opportunity to make a quick plug for the book, which in the several days since I picked it up at the library, I have fallen in love with. Each simple, yet beautiful recipe is preceded by a short vignette that showcases her “New York Times” food writer talents and inspires and encourages her readers to be creative in the kitchen. I loved the book so much that I decided to buy it. And considering how cheap I am, that’s saying something.  Perhaps you too should buy a copy. You can read it while you’re eating a healthy, light Blueberry Cashew salad. That is, if you’re talented enough to read and eat at the same time, which I, sadly, am not.

Blueberry Cashew Salad with Herbs

If you’re not particularly in love with blueberries or cashews you can substitute in a different dried fruit and/or nut. Apparently I’ve been in to flexible recipes lately. If you opt for making this salad a meal, feel free to add chicken. Sliced breasts grilled with some pesto or raspberry vinaigrette would be quite nice.

Makes 1 meal sizes salad or 2 side salads

1 1/2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon cashews, chopped

1 tablespoon dried blueberries, chopped

1 tablespoon soft mixed herbs (such as cilantro, basil, parsley, or mint), chopped

2 cups loosely packed spinach

Mix the lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl and set aside. In a separate bowl toss the dried blueberries, cashews, and herbs until combined well.

Sprinkle the dried blueberries, cashew, herb mixture over the spinach. Drizzle the salad with the lemon-olive oil dressing.

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Filed under Fruit, Salads, Sides, Vegetables

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