Wednesday, May 19, 2010


(PHOTO: E.f.R.'s Summer Berry Salad with balsamic vinegrette)

Berry season is a few weeks away for most of us in the Plains, but we can get these summer gems at our supermarkets at sweet prices. Before P'UP, this time of year would have been prime poundcake season, too. I'd be up to my elbows in Cool Whip. Now that I've been smoke-free for 39 days (THIRTY NINE DAYS), and now that I've come to better understand the "bliss zone" of my palette, I'm thinking this season is the start of something rather new (for me).

As I've mentioned before, using vinegars can help you to satisfy salt cravings without increasing your salt intake. Vinegars can also help to intensify certain flavors, particularly those with natural sugars. My favorite all-around vinegars (balsamic, rice, and raspberry) have proven to be rather satisfying when paired up in salads that contain fruits. This week, I made the above berry salad that contains red leaf lettuce, slivered almonds, blackberries, strawberries, and green onions. This is a nutritionally powerful and tasty salad. If you want to add an extra zing, consider adding feta crumbles or blue cheese crumbles. If you add these tart cheeses, consider using pecans instead of almonds, and add a teaspoon of honey to the dressing.

Basic Berry Salad

3 cups torn fresh red leaf lettuce or a mixture of spinach and lettuce
1 cup of sliced fresh strawberries
1/2 cup blackberries
1/4 cup slivered almonds
3 green onions, sliced lengthwise into "matches' (instead of rounds - it's a flavor balance thing).

Basic Balsamic Vinegrette:

1/4 cup good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon dried Italian Seasoning (or use three tablespoons of chopped fresh oregano, basil, and thyme)
1 clove garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper to taste
(1 tsp. honey if using blue cheese in your salad)

Combine vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt and pepper in a glass or ceramic bowl (metal bowls will alter the taste of your dressing). Let "steep" for an hour or longer. Just before serving, whisk oil into the vinegar mixture thoroughly. Pour over salad.

This is a very affordable dressing alternative to store-bought, particularly if you have potted herbs at home like I do. I keep a kitchen garden on my apartment patio (that's another blog entry coming soon).

Good, happy eating!


  1. Is there a specific brand of balsamic vinegar that you'd recommend?

  2. Well ... I really like Pompeian balsamic vinegar but it's not always on the grad student budget. You can go with a store brand or any that is on sale. However, be careful with the aged stuff. As a general rule, the thicker the vinegar the more expensive - and truly the good thick stuff that comes in those tiny bottles is better served directly on cheeses (as they do in France and Italy). So go with anything you can afford. Pompeian may run a dollar more or so a bottle than store brand.

  3. OOOOhhh. Sounds Deruicious! I have another healthy salad recipe for you and your readers:

    Spicy Mango Leaf Delight:

    1 Tbsp almond slivers
    1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
    1/4 tsp feta cheese crumbles
    5 lbs Value tater tots
    3 14 oz cans regular Hormel Chili (no beans)
    20 pieces of bacon from Van Camps cans of beans

    Garnish with corn and serve lukewarm. This makes for a delicious summer appetizer all your friend will enjoy.


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