Mixed Greens Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts
Do you ever go out to eat and order a dish that, when it comes to the table, you think, “Damn, I could do this at home and it would be so much better”? Not that it’s bad at the restaurant! Just that you know that you could make it at home and you’d put your own spin on it. There’s something about the restaurant experience that will forever make me adore going out to eat, but most of the time I finish my plate and think, “I’m going home and recreating this, except I’ll use this instead of that and that instead of this“. There’s nothing like a new, creative restaurant to pick up recipe ideas. And yes, that can even include a mixed greens salad.
A couple of weeks ago we made an appointment for our 5 month old Norwegian Elkhound pup, Koa, to get groomed. It was the eve of his first day of training and we all know 1st impressions count, even in the dog world! Naturally, we did what all good parents do when they finally, after a hefty number of days, get an hour or two without the little rascals. We went to the bar. Well, not bar really but a local stone-fired pizza place and tap house here in Vermont. Anyways, we sat and chatted for an hour, ordered take out and headed over to pick up our puppy who was fluffier than he’s ever been and smelled rather sweet for a canine. Today’s recipe is inspired by that take out (not by fluffy Koa).
If you’ve read any of Easy Diet HQ before, you know that I’m obsessed with salads. But not just any old salads. I’m obsessed with the salads that are big and bold and beautiful. I’m obsessed with the type of salads that my fiance will ask for again. Hint: my fiance will never ask for an iceberg lettuce salad with a cherry tomato, cucumber slice and banana pepper. There are a few key things that make a killer salad. You can read about those things, and how to never make a boring salad ever again (I mean ever), here.
This salad, with 3 types of lettuce, all kinds of crunch, all kinds of color and all kinds of flavor, is a kick butt salad.
Do you hate lettuce? Yes? I get it. Really, I do. Lettuce can be boring. It can be bland. It can make you feel like you’re trying to stab a wet napkin in a bowl with a toothpick. It can make or break a salad before it’s even built. You shall overcome. Get creative. Make a mixed greens salad. Not the one you buy already mixed. If anything spells wet napkin disaster, that does. A mixed greens salad that you choose and chop means that you pick your flavors and your textures and even your colors. And it allows you to use whatever looks the best at the market! I used baby kale (spicy), chopped Romaine (sweet), radicchio (bitter) in this salad. That’s three GIANT flavors before I’ve even added the “stuff”. And definitely no wet napkins.
I made my super simple, but so delicious Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette to toss the salad in. I’d say I made it in homage to the maple trees dotting the hills and valleys of Vermont, but that would be a lie. I made it because it’s amazing. And it’s simple, but I mentioned that already. Head over here to make a batch of the Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.
This mixed greens salad is so versatile you can really serve it with anything. For lunch, I’d be good to go as is. But at dinner time I like something a bit more substantial. A piece of salmon, grilled steak or chicken or even shrimp would be delicious on top of this salad.
- 1 cup babe kale
- 1 cup sliced Romaine
- 1 cup sliced radicchio
- 1/2 avocado, diced
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup red onion, sliced
- 1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
- 2 tablespoons blue cheese
- 1/4 cup Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette - see link in text above
- In a large bowl combine kale, Romaine, radicchio, avocado, cranberries, red onion and walnuts.
- Toss with Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette.
- Top with crumbled blue cheese.