Well, Hello! I feel bad for neglecting my blog. I have been pre-occupied with a variety of business matters, and sadly cooking (and grocery shopping for that matter) have not been top priorities. It’s okay though, because our pantry and freezer were pretty much full to the brim and we needed to start using some things up. I occasionally tend to go overboard when there are great sales on. I am not talking Costo and buying soup by the caseload that I have to store under my bed or anything. I just buy a few of these, a few of those, a couple of packages of this… and next thing you know I have no free shelf space. If we didn’t need fresh things like milk, bread, eggs and fresh produce we could probably survive being snowed in for a few weeks!
We’ve been eating simple meals like soup, chili, pot roast, omelets and pancakes (breakfast for dinner). We also inherited a new (to us) BBQ, and had burgers for the first time in quite a while. We sure missed having a BBQ (we gave ours away when we sold our house, not knowing we’d end up with a small yard in our new place). I have been meal planning for almost two years without a BBQ, so I keep forgetting that is an option. I sometimes think hubby would be in heaven if we could have BBQ burgers every night. No chopped, pre-formed, frozen burgers in this house – real burgers all the way! Of course, that would not be very healthy… which is why he does not do all the meal planning.
As I mentioned before, we eat a lot of salad in the summer. This year even more so, since our garden was exceptionally abundant. This spinach salad is one I tend to make more in the winter, when I am missing the garden. I am sure many of you have tried some version of spinach salad. This is a variation I have “tweaked” over the years. In the past, hubby would not touch spinach with a 10-foot pole, but now he actually likes this salad. As a matter of fact, as much as I liked cooked spinach, I did not like spinach salad either. I found it to be too bitter for my liking. Now that baby spinach is so readily available, I LOVE spinach salad.
Here is the ingredient list:
- Baby Spinach
- Mandarin Oranges (canned)
- Renee’s Poppy Seed Dressing
- Green onion, finely chopped
- Chopped, Smoked Almonds
I apologize to those of you who need exact measurements to cook. I have never measured this, and I just kind of throw stuff in until it looks right; adjusting accordingly for the amount of people. This recipe should serve about 2 large/dinner-sized salads, or maybe 3-4 side salads.
- First off, drain the canned oranges and reserve the juice/syrup.
- In a large salad or mixing bowl, add a few tablespoons of the poppy seed dressing. You don’t have to use Renee’s, but it tastes REALLY good and is just like the kind of dressing I’ve had in restaurants. If you can find it, there is a lower fat version which also works great with this recipe (for some reason, it seems quite scarce in the grocery stores around here).
- Now for my personal little trick… Using a whisk (or a spoon), drizzle in some of the liquid from the mandarin oranges and mix thoroughly. You still want it to look like dressing, but thinner than Renee’s (which is rather thick). I am really not sure how much I use, maybe 2 or 3 tablespoons.
- Now toss in the chopped nuts. I use about one small handful per person/serving. Feel free to try other nuts (or even a combination). I have used cashews, pistachios, sunflower seeds and (regular) almonds. I just happened to have some smoked ones in the house one day, and decided to give them a try. They just seem to add a nice extra little flavour boost to the salad. I’ve made this version for quite a few people, and everyone seems to like it.
- Next, add the chopped onions. You can use other types of onion. I know some people really like red onions in their salad. I am not one of them… I also think the green onion adds a nice subtle onion flavour. Again, how much onion you add is personal preference, and will depend on how big your onions are. I add about one large green onion per person/serving.
- Give the dressing mixture a stir/whisk to coat the nuts and onions.
- Add the spinach a few handfuls at a time, and toss with the dressing to coat the spinach leaves. I find if you try to add all the spinach at once, it does not mix as evenly (spinach is springy, bouncy stuff that always seems to want to jump out of the bowl on me).
- Add the canned oranges and toss again.
- Serve and enjoy!
Try some spinach salad today and make Popeye proud!