We all have the friend who is the perfect cook. Well, you’ve invited her to dinner…what were you thinking? Don’t panic. It isn’t all that difficult to prepare something that will impress, and yet take no skill or time. This simple spinach salad is a favorite of mine. People are always impressed and yet I can whip it up in just a few minutes. If you want to serve it as a main course, you can always add grilled chicken breast (or slices of a roasted chicken purchased from your local market). If you really want to dress it up, crumble a little goat cheese on top.
*Mom hint-This is actually more than a hint, it is a pet peeve of mine. When you buy pre-washed spinach (carrots, cole slaw, lettuce etc.) wash it anyway. There have been many cases of bacteria found in pre-washed foods. It only takes a few seconds, and might save your family from illness.
1 bag of baby spinach (regular spinach works fine, but takes longer to break off the tough stems)
1 cup of sliced strawberries (this doesn’t have to be exactly a cup, and you can substitute blueberries or drained mandarin oranges if you prefer)
1 cup walnut pieces, toasted (pecans or almonds work just fine)
1/3 cup white vinegar (red wine vinegar or cider vinegar will work)
1/3 cup vegetable oil (do not use olive oil)
¼ cup sugar
1 T. Dijon mustard (don’t use regular mustard, just leave it out if you don’t have a brown, spicy mustard)
Pinch of salt
Pepper to taste
To toast the walnuts (or whatever nuts you are using) I use a piece of foil with the ends turned up (see picture), so that I can remove it easily from the oven. You can use a cookie sheet, but I’d rather throw away foil than wash something else. Place them in the cold oven, turn it on to 350 degrees and bake about 10 minutes. They can burn easily, so watch them closely. You will know they are toasted when you can just begin to smell them. Remove from oven, and let cool a few minutes.
Rinse the spinach and let it drain. You don’t want it too wet. Wash and slice the strawberries. Assemble the salad with the spinach, strawberries and nuts. Make the dressing.
I like to make my dressing in a measuring cup. It is less messy, and easier to pour either on the salad or into a pretty pitcher to place on the table. You can also do it in a medium bowl. Place all ingredients in the cup or bowl, and wisk until the sugar dissolves and the dressing is creamy looking. If you don’t have a wisk, use a fork. This can take 2 or 3 minutes, and may need to be blended again if you don’t use the dressing immediately. Serve the dressing in small pitcher or a small bowl with a spoon. Enjoy.