Monday, June 14, 2010

Blackberry and Baby Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese

Blackberries are one of the highlights of summer for me. Sure they taste good, but they also remind me of my childhood. My dad's parents owned a farm, which is still in our family, and we would go there almost every weekend.

Every June my mother, my grandmother and I would pick blackberries from around the fishpond and off the fence that separated a field of cotton from a dirt road. I would sit in the kitchen nibbling on the fresh berries as the two of them made blackberry jelly, which they would then "put up" into numerous jars. I would wait in anticipation the rest of the afternoon for dinnertime to come around so I could eat some of my grandmother's blackberry cobbler. It is still the best blackberry cobbler I have ever tasted. It is one of the few recipes of my grandmother's that I have. My Aunt Jimmy gave me a copy of the recipe at my bridal shower along with a recipe cardholder. One of these days I'll attempt to make it.

I got some blackberries from the farmer's market Saturday and last night I tried something a little different...a spinach salad with blackberries...and it was delicious. Lee really liked it also.

Blackberry and Baby Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese

Baby spinach
Plain goat cheese
Fresh blackberries

For the dressing:
Balsamic vinegar
Balsamic glaze (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

I rarely measure when I whip up a salad dressing, especially when I make it up as I go along. I just eyeball it to make sure I have enough for the amount of salad I'm making.

The basic formula is the same, though. Mix your acid (in this case the balsamic vinegar) and seasonings. And then, as you whisk that mixture, slowly drizzle in the oil. You have vinaigrette. Don't be scared of it. Just get in the kitchen and bang together some dressing.

I really wanted a sweet dressing, which this was before I even added any honey because the balsamic glaze is on the sweet side. If you don't have balsamic glaze, just use more honey. I think the sweet balances nicely with the spinach. Overall the dish was nicely balanced. The slight sweet tanginess of the berries and the lush, creaminess of the goat cheese was perfect. Yum.

I had another salad with goat cheese and fruit a few weeks ago, and it was equally delicious. There will be a lot more fruit, salad greens, and goat cheese in my future. It is a great summertime combination.

I had some romaine lettuce from the farmer's market and a few dried apricots left from another cooking adventure. I couldn't look at the apricots without thinking of the peaches and creme fraiche I had during my 2007 visit to Chez Panisse. So that led me to apricots and the creamy goat cheese.

Apricot and Goat Cheese Salad

Romaine lettuce, chopped coarsely
Dried apricots (rehydrated in water for about 30 minutes) or fresh apricots
Fresh goat cheese

For the dressing:

Apricot preserves
Dijon mustard or spicy brown mustard (just a little)
Red wine vinegar
Freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

1 comment:

  1. YUM! I love fruity salads, and those look delicious!!!

    ...Just stopping by from Alabama Bloggers to say hi!