Making your own salad dressing is so worth it, in my opinion. For a start, everything tastes better fresh (and you know those bottles sitting on the shelf in the grocery store can’t really be called fresh). Second, they are really, really easy! Most dressings just take a couple of minutes to whip up. Third, they are totally customizable. You can control the amount of salt, sugar, and oil in your salad to your liking. No more being disappointed by your salad- a great dressing can take your salad from being mediocre to being a wonderful meal!
One of our favorite salad dressings ever is this fancied-up balsamic vinaigrette. It has a great smooth texture and is full of flavor, thanks to the addition of Dijon mustard, shallot, and honey. It pairs really nicely with candied nuts (or toasted ones if you want to avoid the extra sugar) and some fruit. Apples and pears both work really well, but dried cranberries would also be delicious. A bit of crumbled feta is the perfect antidote to the other sweet toppings and adds a nice saltiness to the salad. We usually like to use mixed greens or spinach, but feel free to use whatever greens you like best.
Mixed Greens Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette, Apples, Feta, and Candied Almonds
Serves about 5 people
For the dressing:
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons finely diced shallot
Salt and pepper to taste
For salad assembly:
1/2 cup chopped almonds, pecans, or walnuts
1 tablespoon salted butter
1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
7 ounces of your green of choice (spinach or Spring mix are great)
2 ounces of crumbled feta (or more to taste)
2 apples or pears, sliced
Optional: dried cranberries
Combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, dijon mustard, diced shallots, and salt and pepper (maybe start with about 1/4 teaspoon of each). Using an immersion blender (or a food processor or blender), mix until smooth and emulsified.
To candy the nuts, melt together the light brown sugar and the butter in a small saucepan. Add the nuts and cook until caramelized, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place the lettuce in a bowl and top with the sliced fruit, crumbled feta, and candied nuts. Drizzle with the dressing and toss to combine. Serve and enjoy!