01 July 2012

Ladies that Lunch - Blueberry Pistachio Salad with Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

While the hubs is away, the ladies will play!  My friend Jay has come into town for the holiday, providing some much needed girly time.  Shenanigans are pretty much guaranteed to occur.  And now I have a new palate to taste some of my favorite recipes on!

Every lady loves a light salad for summer lunch.  And with the temperatures in the 90's with no end in sight, cool lunches with cold cuts, crackers and cheese is simply divine.  And this is currently one of my favorite salads.  Everyone has had the traditional strawberry almond or walnut cranberry salad.  And why not?!  Fruit and nuts add wonderful texture and flavor.  Here, I simply bring to you one of my favorite variations on the traditional fruit and nut salad.

My favorite nut when I was young was pistachio.  Why?  Simple.  They're fun to eat, green and have a crazy unique flavor profile.  They also have a lovely, almost meaty texture being a softer nut.  I recently got super into the roasted, shelled variety because of their ease of use.  No cracking, peeling or prepping required.  Just sprinkle and serve.  

Blueberries are perfect in this salad as they are nearly the exact same size as the pistachios.  They add a subtle fruit flavor that doesn't combat the pistachios and a pleasant mouth-pop that can only come from a blueberry.  Thin sliced red onion adds a bit more flavor and texture.  And then we have the honey balsamic vinaigrette, one of my summertime favorites.  Since there was only two of us, I prefer to make a smaller portion of the dressing.  That way there is enough for one or two more salads, but not so much that it sits in your refrigerator for a month.  Kind of nice, considering the pletora of condiments that abide in there.

The surprising and delightful addition to our ladies lunch was the Cacio di Roma that we had served on the side.  This soft, mild cheese paired wonderfully with this dish, so much so that we both ended up dicing a bit and sprinkling it right in the salad!  Another cheese bin bargin, this lightly fruity and nutty cheese added a great creamy texture to the salad without detracting from the original flavors.  If you find some, give it a try!  It also melts wonderfully in a grilled cheese (to come later this week........)

Blueberry Pistachio Salad w/ Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette (serves 2)
  • 1 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp water
  • salt, pepper & sweet paprika to taste
  • 4 c kale or other greens of choice
  • 1 c blueberries
  • 1/4 c roasted pistachios
  • 1/4 c thinly sliced red onion
  • diced Cacio di Roma cheese (optional)
Combine the vinegar, honey and garlic in a small bowl.  Season with salt, pepper & sweet paprika to taste.  Whisk together well.  While vigorously whisking, drizzle in olive oil and then the water.  Beat until completely emulsified.  

Drizzle about 2 teaspoons of the dressing over the kale in a medium bowl.  Toss well to coat and let sit for about 10 minutes.  This will soften the kale a bit. (If you are using another green, can omit the waiting period.)

Add half of the blueberries, pistachios and onions to the kale and toss to distribute.  Divide between two bowls.  Sprinkle the remaining blueberries, pistachios and onions evenly over the top of each salad.    Serve with crackers, cold cuts and cheese.  

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