Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Farmers Market SPINACH SALAD

If you haven't visited your local farmers' market lately, let me be the first to tell you that you are MISSING OUT! Not only is it a great way to support your neighbors and your community but you truly will find the BEST of produce, baked goods, bath and body products & family fun! You can also save money by shopping at the farmers' market! You are assured the freshest foods so it will stay good LONGER in your fridge or on your shelf.

I have the amazing pleasure of being near the West Chester, Ohio Farmers' market who is able to operate almost year round! In the Winter, it is held in a beautiful-historic barn and when the weather turns nicer...it is outside in the sunshine!
Bad weather doesn't keep us away from fresh and local items!

There is always a great mix of products at my local farmers market and you just never know what you will find that inspires you! This week, I was inspired by the thing I used to HATE as a child - spinach. This spinach was from the "Our Harvest Cooperative"  from the greater Cincinnati, Ohio area who not only grows amazing fruits and veggies but also mixes up some mean culinary concoctions while doing great works all at the same time! They provide foods like salsas, granolas, farm fresh eggs, and more all sustainably grown by local folks! Learn more about them by visiting their Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/OurHarvestCoop and also by checking out their website www.ourharvest.coop . They also provide amazing produce boxes and as someone who loves produce...I can tell you, their stuff is AMAZING!
I normally will never admit that I am wrong (just ask my husband) but when it comes to spinach...I am willing to say it. In all fairness, I think it is mostly because my mother maybe didn't know how to prepare spinach. She usually cooked it - to death- with very little seasoning. It only made an appearance in my home when she was on a diet so its no wonder I hated it! After getting married myself, I decided to branch out and try to master some new foods and none was easier than spinach.

Today, I want to share how easy it is to create a "restaurant" quality spinach salad that will be healthy, quick to make, and most of all - darn good! You can change up this basic recipe with any of your favorite fruits, nuts, and even meats.

First, you have to start with the dressing! When it comes to spinach salads, I always advise going with something sweet and savory like a great balsamic vinaigrette, honey mustard, or this Sweet Onion Dressing. Avoid things like ranch and French-they are pretty heavy and hide all of the flavor of your salad! You can always go and buy your dressing at the grocery but once you make it yourself, you may NEVER go back! This dressing is best if you can make it the night before and let it sit. You had better make enough to last you all week while you are at it because the flavor gets better every day!

Basic Ingredients:
It's just waiting on you!
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
minced onion
crushed garlic

Put all of these into a cute jar or container and shake. That's it! Place it in the fridge overnight and allow the flavors to marinate.

Now that you have made it..you get to play with it! I listed the ingredients that I love but left the seasonings unmeasured...its up to you and what herbs you love. You can even go as simple as just the oil and vinegar and will still have a great dressing.  Once you make it, try playing it up with different oils, vinegars, and add-ins like blackberries!

Here is another recipe for a dressing that goes very well with a spinach salad!  Check out my Sweet Citrus & Onion Dressing!

As for the toppings - it is your salad so dress it however you would like! Some toppings that go well with spinach are: bacon, eggs, chicken, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, onions, and of course nuts. If you want to add cheese, go for a hearty cheese like feta, goat, bleu, or parmesan.

Wait - did I say nuts? Yep...no salad is complete without those sweet glazed nuts! It is the one thing that comes on your restaurant salad that you think there is NO way you can recreate at home...well, just like me, you were wrong! These are super easy to make and cheaper too!

Take any nut you like and use this simple recipe :
2 cups nuts
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons brown sugar

Seriously, that is ALL! I make these in the microwave by warming the butter and sugar in a microwave safe container. Once you see that the sugar has dissolved - simply stir in the nuts. After they are evenly coated...spread them out and allow them to cool - without eating them (they are hard to resist). Simply toss these on your salad for the perfect finishing touch!

 That's it, you have now created the perfect salad! You can make it for a great lunch or dinner and it wows at parties!

So, what will inspire you this week at the Farmers' Market? Stay tuned to see what inspires me each week at the West Chester, Ohio Farmers Market! You can follow the market on facebook by clicking HERE. The next market day is March 21st in the Mulhauser Barn and then it heads to the outside location right off union center by the library every Saturday from 2-4! The website http://westchesterohiofarmersmarket.org/ has more information and details about dates and vendors!


I hope you enjoyed this recipe and will continue to follow my site Frugal Fit Family! You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to the minute with my favorite recipes, organic living tips, and DIY green beauty potions!