10.06.2012

cucumber, raspberry, & spinach salad + rosemary balsamic vinaigrette


This concoction of ingredients was not planned one bit. You would never suspect that though, due to how well all of the flavors complement each other. To be honest, I can't remember that last time I made a salad before this one. My inner health freak feels slightly ashamed. In reality, it probably wasn't THAT long ago that I fashioned up a hefty bowl of leafy greens. My memory is just on a serious decline. It's kind of scaring me a bit, actually.


The raspberries were the first to come into the picture (no pun intended.) If they're on sale, they're in my grocery cart. Beautifully bright, loaded with nutrients, very juicy, and perfectly sweet are just a few reasons why raspberries always steal my heart (and make their way into my salads quite often.) The cucumber was definitely unexpected, as I never ever buy them. I'm always finding ways to surprise myself now-a-days, though.


I use baby spinach in almost all of my leafy green salads. Not so much because I favor the taste over other greens, but it is super nutrient dense, which you know I'm alllll about. And thanks to my Nutrition & Metabolism class (and of course my hilarious/very knowledgeable professor Dr. Shelnutt) I'm learning how our bodies utilize each of the vitamins and why they're so important for our bodies to function correctly. I won't get into it now, mainly because I want to finish up this post and figure out what my desperately hungry self wants for dinner (a girls gotta eat!), but you'll definitely be hearing about this class again in near-future posts.

Cucumber, Raspberry, & Spinach Salad
Yield: 1 serving

Ingredients:

note: the amount of each ingredient is approximated. I just tossed in a little of each.
  • baby spinach, a generous handful or so
  • fresh raspberries, ~10
  • peeled cucumber slices, ~5
  • sliced almonds, 1/2 tablespoon
  • reduced fat crumbled feta, 1/2 tablespoon
Steps:

Add the spinach, raspberries, cucumbers, almonds, and feta to your salad bowl. Top it off with rosemary balsamic vinaigrette- recipe below. Enjoy your new favorite salad ;)!


It's apparent that my speed of snapping food photos are not up to par, as the vinegar and oil separated before I could get the image I wanted. I even tried to prepare for this by having everything set up and ready to go as soon as I poured the vinaigrette into the funnel. I must've whisked it for at least a minute straight in the hopes that it would stay emulsified longer. My camera was good to go, the fresh rosemary was positioned perfectly (pretty, but not looking like it's trying too hard,) and the cats were no where close to this area to ensure that my rosemary would not be stolen off of the counter again. Yes, this happened. Betty White had herself a nice little snack right before this shoot. I should've known to keep an eye on the rosemary, as 5 minutes before I had realized that it had gone missing, B-dubs could not stop licking my aromatic fingers that perfumed of the fresh herb. When I was setting up and noticed that I only had two out of the three stalks of rosemary, I ran into the living room and found the third stalk between two kitty paws with a sandpaper-like tongue happily licking away at it. And even cuter, she was sharing it with her sister Cheeks! (These two are the cutest, most beautiful, most awesome litter mates ever! I truly feel bad for people who have never met my two furry nieces.)

But back to the vinaigrette! The ratio of vinegar to oil is not your typical amount. Reason being, I am totally in love with balsamic vinegar. I could eat it off of a spoon by itself. Well, I do eat it off of a spoon by itself. (Not all the time or anything, but it's been done, numerous times.) Therefore, my balsamic vinaigrettes are typically 1:1 ratios, rather than a 1:3. If this is too acidic for you, feel free to add more oil and adjust it to your liking.


If you can, try to use fresh rosemary. It's pretty much perfect in this dressing! However if you don't have it, you can substitute dried rosemary. If you use dried, rub it between your fingers before adding it to the vinegar. It releases the natural oils and really brings out the rosemary flavor :) This vinaigrette has quickly become a new favorite of mine, and the best part- it's so, so simple!


Rosemary Balsamic Vinaigrette
Yield: ~4 servings

note: The yield for the salad is 1 serving, where the yield for this is 4 servings. I make extra dressing and store it in an airtight container in the pantry for future use. If you don't want to do that, just scale the recipe down by 4 (1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to 1 tablespoon of EVOO, + 1/2 teaspoon fresh minced rosemary)

Ingredients:
  • balsamic vinegar, 4 tablespoons
  • extra virgin olive oil, 4 tablespoons
  • fresh rosemary, minced, 2 teaspoons
  • good pinch of kosher salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Steps:

In a small mixing bowl or measuring cup (anything you can whisk in, really), add the balsamic vinegar, rosemary, salt, and pepper. While whisking vigorously, add EVOO until an emulsion forms (15 seconds maybe.) Pour over salad for immediate use, or add to an air tight container and store at room temperature in your pantry.

******

The Gators beat LSU today (hell yeahhhh!), so it's going to be a good night here in the swamp :) Enjoy the rest of your weekend!




43 comments :

  1. Not only does this salad look delicious but its very pretty! The fact that it consists of my favorite green leaf is yummy. Now that you have hooked me up with rasperberries, I will probably give this recipe a shot for lunches at work! Thanks for a great and beautiful lunch idea! Oh and healthy too! :)

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