I made a salad with fresh cherries and soft goat cheese similar to this one for dinner last week, only using arugula instead of spinach. When I went to the market this morning looking for more arugula to make my new favorite salad with cherries and goat cheese I found beautiful fresh spinach instead and decided to go with that. My favorite thing about the original salad were the bites of fresh cherries with the crumbled goat cheese mixed into the greens. I’m always on the lookout for tender greens like arugula and spinach which are plentiful in our local farmer’s market this month.
I drizzled a small amount of vinaigrette over the salad on the plates, instead of tossing the greens in all the dressing, which is always an option if you want to serve a salad with a few less calories. The sweet cherries, goat cheese and walnuts add a lot of flavor to the salad so I don’t think you’ll miss the extra dressing if you want to try lightening up this recipe.
Besides finding tender greens for the salad, you will want to find ripe sweet cherries, a soft delicate flavored fresh goat cheese and good quality walnuts. Don’t get me started on the quality of walnuts…there really is a difference. I usually buy my walnuts at our local farmer’s market or from the bins at Whole Foods but sometimes in a pinch I buy one of those small bags of walnuts from the neighborhood grocery store. You probably know the kind I’m referring to – the small bags of walnuts that cost a fortune and are broken into small pieces that look all crumbly, like the bag was in someone’s pocket for about a year.
Simple recipes made with a few select ingredients taste good because of the quality of those ingredients. Why not seek out the best ingredients you can find? This is the perfect time of year to discover or re-discover your local farmer’s markets. We have a small Tuesday night downtown that starts in late Spring and runs until early Fall. For the past few years I’ve been meeting my grandchildren in the late afternoon at our market, usually with my son-in-law, who has made it a weekly event to attend the farmer’s market. The kids love the bouncy house, giant slide, pony rides, honey sticks, samples of fruit, cookies, cheese, breads and all the action provided by the vendors and shoppers. At the very least I’m able to use a few baskets of fresh berries for my cereal. But, the truth is I usually buy more than we need because everything always looks so good at the market.
- For the Spinach Salad
- 6 cups lightly packed fresh spinach
- 1 cup sweet cherries, pitted and cut in half
- 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled
- 1/2 cup walnut halves, broken in pieces
- For the Vinaigrette
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Squeeze lime juice
- Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
- Make the Vinaigrette
- Whisk together the oils, champagne vinegar, honey, lime juice, pepper and salt.
- Make the Spinach Salad
- Place the spinach in a large bowl and coat with the vinaigrette, or drizzle over the greens on the plates before serving.
- Gently toss in the cherries, goat cheese and walnuts.
- Divide onto 4 salad plates and serve.