Today on the blog is Berry Spinach Salad. And, Spiriteds, it is so divine I could hardly handle the anticipation of sharing it with you. But last night I tried a new wine, and I’m dead on the floor with delight. Have you tried Winking Owl wines yet? If you haven’t, then you should. Omigod, it’s only the best wine ever under $5. I have a rule of thumb about wines, and “experiential scientific studies” have proved this rule. If a bottle of wine is more than $12.99 (exceptions made for inflation), then I won’t like it. True as toast.
K-Hubs and I got married almost 14 years ago. People gave us the most luxurious bottles of wine. In our post-wedding haze, we’d spend our evenings gazing adoringly into each other’s eyes. “My dearest Morgan,” K-Hubs would say, “what bottle shall we open tonight?” I would gaze back with equal devotion. And because our love was real, and K-Hubs was a mind reader, I didn’t even have to use words. Whichever one you wish, dear, I’d think. And then my telepathy would ping his telepathy, and we’d open a bottle.
Dear God, who are these people even?
That’s when we discovered the horrors. We didn’t like them. The three whopping times a year we drink wine and we didn’t even enjoy them. These were nice bottles, too. Really nice gifts from genuinely thoughtful friends. But with each tear-inducing sip, a part of me died inside. So, I gave up on wine. Maybe it just isn’t my thing, I thought. Perhaps I need more culture. Possibly. Or maybe, as we discovered at a wine tasting, it just needs to be $12.99 and under. Whatever that wine was (I can describe the bottle but don’t know the name), well, it was wonderful.
Wild Vines was another big one in our house, so please imagine our pain when bottles went from $2.99 to $3.99. WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO DO TO US? Umm, probably trying to make a profit.
So, when I discovered Winking Owl in their terribly cute bottles, and at just $2.89 at Aldi’s, I HAD TO TRY THEM. Drinking Winking Owl is like drinking Clearly Canadian. So maybe keep an accountability partner around because this stuff goes down smooth. You’ll forget you’re drinking alcohol. Also, I wanted to try each color. But I stuck to the sweeter flavors because I didn’t have a steak nearby. So I guess for the whopping three times a year I manage to drink a glass of wine, I can get through the whole year for less than $10. This is living, Spiriteds.
What does Winking Owl have to do with today’s Berry Spinach Salad? Not a damned thing. Other than maybe they would pair well together. But I can’t claim foresight on that. I only just thought of it now. Okay, but seriously, if you try it, I want to know. And if your palate has a max dollar amount like mine does, I want to know about that, too.
However, this Berry Spinach Salad? It tastes like happiness, hopes, and dreams. It’s sweet meets savory, healthy meets enjoyable. It also happens to be a “slight variation” of the salads Mom and I enjoyed decades ago. Salads, like smoothies, are how I get my mojo back if I’ve gotten rundown. They are my go-to choice for acting like an adult.
But even better is the fact that this salad is respectable AND tasty. There is something about berries and mandarins in the same dish that make everything right with the world. Or fruits matched up with red onions, green onions, and cilantro. And let’s not forget fresh spinach. It is worth every bite and doesn’t deserve the poor reputation which often precedes it. Or pecans, my favorite topping (aside from the Raspberry Vinaigrette Dressing of yesteryear, as in yesterday).Beyond that, the only thing left you’ll need is a large bowl for tossing. And that’s really all I do. Throw everything together and toss. Voila! You have Berry Spinach Salad.
How far in advance do I make this? Usually day-of. I like my fruits and vegetables to be as fresh as possible, and the juice from the mandarins adds a nice touch. Thus, I don’t want them peeled and drying out in the fridge. No, Berry Spinach Salad is too pretty and too tasty for that sad outcome.
If you want to transform this into a make-ahead jar, I’d peel the mandarins just before eating and pour the salad dressing into the jar first so it doesn’t make the fruits and vegetables soggy. Additionally, you could keep your dressing in a separate jar, but that all depends on how many jars you want to whip out in the lunchroom or at your desk. K-Hubs would have 35 jars spread out at his desk and think nothing of it if it meant he walked away from lunch with a stellar salad. I, on the other hand, would get overwhelmed by all those jars, feeling the need to consolidate as I assembled my fruit ‘n veggie delight. Between the two of us, K-Hubs and I make one mostly rational, sort of well-rounded individual. There’s hope for us all. 🙂
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves, loosely packed
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- ½ cup fresh blueberries
- 3 mandarins, peeled
- 2 tablespoons red onion, diced
- 2 tablespoons green onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced
- Pecans or sunflower seeds for garnish, optional
- Toss ingredients in large mixing bowl.
- Scoop salad into deep bowls and top with pecans, sunflower seeds, or other garnishes as desired.
- Serve immediately.