Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Fruit and Nut Salad

We eat salad at nearly every dinner meal.  I grew up with the standard dinner salad - ice berg lettuce topped with ranch or Italian dressing, maybe a tomato, carrot, or celery on top if Mom had time.  The development of bagged salad, however, inspired a whole new way of eating greens daily for me and many other Americans.  Standing in front of the bagged salad section at the grocery store, there are just oodles of varieties of greens to create your salad base.  I have not purchased a head of iceberg lettuce in the last 10 years!

Over the years, I have streamlined some of my creative cooking ideas into the salads that we have on our table.  I love coming up with new and different combinations of items we have in the frig and pantry to compliment the healthy greens in my produce drawer.  I love finding new flavors for dressings or salad toppings that will compliment the simple main dish foods my children will eat without complaining.  My favorite combination atop a bed of mixed greens is the addition of both fruit and nuts.  I love how the tender greens mix with the sweet fruits and the saltiness of the nuts provides crunch and a punch of flavor. 

This Fruit and Nut Salad is one that I have used many times throughout the years, and I often vary what fruits and nuts I add depending on what we have on hand.  My favorite combination is red and green leaf baby lettuces topped with red grapes, apples, and toasted almonds or pistachios. The key to this salad is the light dressing that can be made in just a few minutes with simple ingredients from your frig and pantry.  You can store the dressing in a small jar for a couple of weeks, just shake it well before serving.

Here's the dressing recipe:

Fruit and Nut Salad Dressing:
1/4 cup canola oil
3 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon peel
few shakes of Salt and Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients in a small jar and shake with the lid on (or whisk together) until blended.

When I served this salad this week, I found a small package of Heart Healthy Nuts from Planters in our pantry that we received in a gift snack basket.  The combination of walnuts, pistachios, almonds, and peanuts complimented the red grapes and Fuji apple perfectly.  I had only green leaf lettuce in my produce drawer this week, but the combination of the red and green will make a prettier salad.

Fruit and Nut Salad

What's your favorite salad topping?

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