Yes, it is the middle of summer. And yes, my previous two posts have involved big pots of something on the stove (miso soup, black bean chili). What can I say - I make what sounds good: sometimes that means hot miso soup in July! Today, I'll post something perhaps more seasonally appropriate. This time of year, there is little better than a summer salad made with fresh, in-season produce.
While I'm on the topic of summer salads, I'll mention a New York Times article, 101 Simple Salads for the Season, that Marika forwarded me recently. As the title suggests, the article features a number (101, to be exact) of easy to make summertime salads. They claim each can be made in about 20 minutes or less. Marika was raving about the red salad, which is composed of tomato, strawberries, basil, and balsamic vinegar. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
OK, back to my salad. I had maple balsamic vinaigrette for the first time a couple of months ago when JR and I were driving down the coast from Seattle to San Francisco. We arrived in Mendocino in the evening to stay at Stanford Inn by the Sea (which was beautiful - it features a huge certified organic garden guests can wander through that provides much of the food for their vegetarian restaurant; we ate breakfast there the following morning, which was amazing). We were tired from a long day driving and didn't feel like cleaning up to go out to dinner, so ordered take out from a local pizzeria (slash ice cream parlor!) - Frankie's. Their organic salad featured a maple vinaigrette that was heaven in salad dressing. I've been trying to replicate it, with mixed results, ever since.
Finally, two nights ago, I think I did it. Granted, it's been awhile since I consumed Frankie's salad, so I'm not sure this is an exact match, but it tastes so good that I don't really care! Like the simple salads featured in the NYT article, this one is fast, easy, and packed with diverse flavors. Here's how it goes:
Spinach Pear Salad with Creamy Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. plain yogurt (I used goat's milk yogurt; greek yogurt would also be great)
3 handfuls of spinach
1 red pear, cored and thinly sliced
1-2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
1/4 c. walnuts or pecans
Whisk together dressing ingredients. Put salad ingredients into a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Enjoy!