Thursday, December 6, 2012

roasted cranberry & spinach salad

so every year on thanksgiving i make the cranberry sauce, it is full of orange juice, vanilla, maple syrup, and a hint of ginger if the mood strikes me, it is divine, so i am told, well, at least by my tanta tovah whose favorite word is divine. but this year i celebrated thanksgiving with friends instead of family, and alas they did not know about the long standing tradition that is me and cranberry sauce. that, coupled with the surprise inclusion of two bags of cranberries with my fresh direct order (happy accident or conspiracy on the part of the cranberry industry?) led to this recipe. in truth i have never cooked with cranberries except in the aforementioned sauce form, and these bags of cranberries having been staring me in the face for 2+ weeks taunting me and mocking my culinary abilities. well, today we made friends, and i am delighted we did because this salad too is divine. the tart juiciness of the roasted cranberries, the crunch of the toasted walnuts, and the creaminess and depth of the blue cheese combine in a way that is an explosion of deliciousness in your mouth.

for the salad:

-1 lb baby spinach, washed and spun dry
- 24 oz cranberries, roasted
- 1/2 lb of blue cheese, crumbled
if you are using kosher i like "the good life" blue cheese out of monsey, ny
- 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts

to roast cranberries, coat in some oil or spray with canola, i like the spectrum high heat canola spray, and spread out on sheet pan/cookie sheet, pop into a 400 degree oven til just soft, about 15 minutes. to toast walnuts spread out on cookie sheet and pop into 400 degree oven til light and toasty smelling, about 8 minutes, keep a constant eye on them, don't let burn! either use pieces or run through a quick trip in the food processor. once the above are done and cooled, assemble everything in a big serving bowl. instead of tossing this salad i would put half the spinach on the bottom of the bowl, then half the cranberries, blue cheese, and walnuts, and then repeat on top of it with the other half, it will make for a cleaner presentation and then there is no need to toss.

for the dressing:

option 1-
a little pink sea salt, fresh cracked pepper and blood orange infused olive oil which i picked up at the olive n grape store in new hope, PA last year. (the olive oil is a first cold press moroccan oil with blood oranges naturally squeezed into it when the oil is crushed, it is an all cold all natural product and as such doesn't need a hechsher.)

option 2-
the second option for the dressing (in case you have not just jumped online and ordered this olive oil, which you really really should) is to whisk together:

juice & zest of 1 orange
3 T maple syrup
salt & pepper to taste
a splash of red wine vinegar
1 T dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil

dress your salad and enjoy! i served this with whole wheat pumpkin bread, and an autumn harvest pasta with roasted root vegetables, shaved romano, pumpkin seeds, and lots of fresh sage and oregano. the meal pairs well with the dalton reserve wild yeast viognier, one of my favorite whites.

happy eating!

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