Don't tell anyone, but I am not the biggest fan of cranberries. I know they are one of our regions great ingredients and I have been slowly working my way to a closer relationship with them. Here's a riff on a warm spinach salad that gets a nice burst of flavor from you guessed it—cranberries.
The salad is a simple mix of baby spinach with sliced red onions, pumpkin seeds and dried cranberries with a sweet and tart dressing that repeats the cranberry theme with some cranberry juice. What makes this delicious and inviting, is that the pumpkin seeds get fragrant and crunchy from a quick pan toasting, the onions are slowly cooked so they get sweet and unctuous, then the vinaigrette ingredients get added and heat through just enough to wilt some of the spinach leaves—but not all of them for a lovely texture and terrific flavor—now those are cranberries I can eat.
Total time: 25 minutes
Active time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
½ cup shelled pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into rings
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup dried cranberries
1 ( 6- ounce) bag baby spinach, washed and dried
Toast pumpkin seeds in a heavy-bottomed skillet over low heat, shaking occasionally, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from skillet and reserve.
Heat olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Cook onion until soft and slightly caramelized, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and remove from heat.
Make Warm Cranberry Vinaigrette (see below).
Gently reheat onions over low heat. Add vinaigrette and dried cranberries and heat gently until warm, 1-2 minutes.
Place spinach in a salad bowl, pour warmed cranberry over salad and toss lightly. Divide among 4 plates and sprinkle with pumpkin seeds. Serve immediately.
Yield: about 1 cup
¼ cup red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
¼ teaspoon mustard powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 tablespoons cranberry juice (not cranberry-apple or other blends)
2 teaspoons honey
½ cup plus one tablespoon walnut oil
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, mustard, mustard powder, salt, pepper, garlic, cranberry juice and honey.
Add walnut oil in a slow stream, whisking constantly.
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