4.07.2015

Baby Greens and Blackberry Salad with Candied Walnuts and Blackberry Vinaigrette


Ever since spring has begin to peek it's way lovingly through our windows, I've been craving the sweet bursting flavors of fresh berries. Thankfully, now that they are beginning to be in season (strawberries especially), I've been able to toss them into our salads without spending a pretty penny at the grocery store. 

I've received a lot of fun and positive feedback from you fine people about my Berry Spinach Salad with Strawberry Lime Vinaigrette - thank you!!! I've even gone to a friend's house and it's what she had just barely served her family along with dinner. It was so fun to see, and I LOVE hearing about how the recipes I've shared have been working beautifully in your homes. That's such a fun part of food blogging, and kind of my favorite part, actually. 

Anyway, I thought we should try another salad recipe involving those gorgeous berries, and this time, I wanted to focus on one of my favorite berries in particular: blackberries! I used it in both the dressing and the salad, and we were absolutely smitten with how delicious it was! 


Blackberries are deliciously tart, but not as tart as raspberries or even blueberries. They have such a fun sweetness in the aftertaste; a dark rich flavor. I just adore it! 


I new we needed a bit of creaminess, other than the dressing of course, so fresh avocados were a no-brainer. Waiting for them to ripen is torture, so using a brown paper bag overnight usually speeds up the process perfectly. 


I LOVE using candied nuts in my berry salads, so my toasted walnuts took a quick toss in some piping hot bubbling sugar on the stove. I let them dry, and then tossed them right into my salad. Easy, easy, way to candy nuts without having to pay a couple extra dollars at the grocery store for the pre-candied version. 

Also, baby greens were a must. Not my husband's favorite. I think he's a straight romaine guy. Or iceberg lettuce, guy, really. I happen to enjoy the darker greens like spinach, kale, and the butter flavors of arugula. So this time, he had to suffer. haha. I don't think he really minded after eating up some of this salad next to some fried chicken for dinner. The chicken gets him every time. ;) 



Lastly, the dressing. Bright. Bold. and seriously gorgeous. I've never really been a dressing fan, mostly because there's always too much vinegar for my taste - especially in those darned vinaigrettes. Well, they are "vinegar" based, so I shouldn't complain too much. This one, though, uses less vinegar, and more agave or honey to meld perfectly with the sweet tartness of the fresh berry puree. It's heavenly, and ties everything together like a wonderland. Oh, this salad. Pretty please make this salad. So amazing!!! 






Baby Greens and Blackberry Salad with Candied Walnuts & Blackberry Vinaigrette
makes 4 servings

ingredients:
1 salad package of baby greens (I love using just spinach and kale, too)
1 C fresh blackberries 
1 avocado, diced
candied walnut halves (you can candy your own with heated sugar and raw walnut halves)
sprinkle of feta or blue cheese

dressing:
3/4 C blackberries 
2/3 C EVOO
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
2 T honey or agave
1/4 C cold water (add little at a time)

method:
1. Prepare the dressing: in a small food processor or blender (I use our single-serving smoothie blender cups), blend together all the ingredients. Add the water a little at a time until the desired consistency is reached. 
2. On 4 salad plates, or one large bowl, layer on the baby greens, blackberries, avocado, walnuts, and cheese. Drizzle on as much or little of the dressing as you wish. 

Salad recipe: Baking with Blondie
Dressing recipe adapted from: Creme de la Crumb

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