2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tablespoons crushed garlic
1/2 cup plain almonds, sliced
1/2 cup sun dried cranberries
3 roman tomatoes
1 cup Balsamic vinaigrette
1 package baby spinach
1 cup goat cheese


1. Slice the tomatoes into thirds lengthwise, then crosscut into three pieces the other way, ending up with cubed pieces of tomato.
2. After adding the vegetable oil to a sauté pan over medium heat, simmer the crushed garlic for 30 seconds and add the almonds and dried cranberries. Saute for one and one-half minutes until the almonds are brown. Shake pan often in order to prevent cranberries from browning and to help almonds brown evenly.
3. Turn off the heat and add tomatoes, tossing with other ingredients. Add balsamic vinegar and mix evenly.
4. Just before serving and while it is still warm, add the dressing over the spinach and then spread the goat cheese over the entire mixture.

Recipe courtesy of Executive Chef Thomas Rafferty, Periwinkles Catering and Periwinkles Restaurant of Essex, 2009.

This salad is perfect for the fall and winter seasons and can be modified for other times of the year by using raisins or currants instead of cranberries. You can also use walnuts, pistachios or pine nuts instead of almonds to suit your taste. Experiment to your own tastes. In order to bring out the flavors the ingredients for the dressing are heated, not cooked, and then spread over the baby spinach before topping with goat cheese, which will begin to soften. Vegetable or canola oil should be used instead of olive oil because it is better suited for using over heat and does not impart any of its own flavors to the dressing as olive oil would.

Warm Spinach Salad with Cranberries, Almonds and Goat Cheese
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