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Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's All in the Vinaigrette

Let's face it.  To some extent salad is just salad.  No matter how fancy you get with the lettuce, it's still just lettuce.  I've tried them all and to a great or lesser extent none of them really excite me.  Except for maybe arugula, which I really love.  What really makes a salad spin is the dressing.

As you know, I've recently been cooking from Melissa Clark's Cook This Now.  I've been having a lot of fun trying new dishes that focus on what's seasonally available.  When I saw this recipe for spinach salad I knew I had to try it and not because of the spinach.  I was excited because of the vinaigrette.

So off I went to Whole Foods the other day in search of "mature" spinach with which to make this spinach salad.  You would imagine that Whole Foods would have something a little more imaginative than baby spinach in a bag but they did not.  So, rather than go that route, I took Melissa Clark's advice and substituted in arugula.  I like arugula better anyway.  I picked up some plump dried cranberries too.  I was all set.

A mortar and pestle is perfect for combining the garlic and anchovy.
Like most salads, this one was quick and easy to put together.  It took just seconds, including pine nut toasting time.  Now it was time to make the vinaigrette.

I have to confess that the reason I was so excited about this vinaigrette was because in it was an anchovy.  I love the salty taste of anchovies.  The salty bite of the fish against the peppery crunch of the arugula sounded too delicious to pass up.

And delicious this salad was.

Recipe:  Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries and Pine Nuts
(Melissa Clark, Cook This Now, 2011)

Note:  You can substitute the same amount of arugula for the spinach.


1/4 cup pine nuts
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 anchovy fillet, chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces spinach leaves, trimmed about 8 cups
1/4 cup dried cranberries


In a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over medium heat until they turn golden and smell toasty, about 3 minutes,  Pour them onto a plate to cool.

Place the garlic, anchovy, a pinch of salt and black pepper in a mortar and pestle.  Crush to form a paste. Transfer the paste to a small bowl.  Whisk in the vinegar, then slowly whisk in the oil.

Place the green in a large bowl; add the vinaigrette and toss well to combine.  Add the nuts and cranberries.  Toss once more and serve.

1 comment:

  1. Though I'm not a fan of anchovies, I would make this lovely sounding vinagrette and use a dab of anchovy paste instead (that I could handle LOL) Wonderful recipe and a great looking salad.