A fresh, bright dressing for your favorite salads, Raspberry Fresh Mint Vinaigrette will liven up the simplest salads… You’ll find 1 recipe and tips on creating your own fabulous (and healthy) salad dressings!
Spring in the desert southwest is a mixed blessing. While we enjoy many beautiful days with idyllic, crystal clear blue skies, fluffy white clouds, gorgeous sunsets, and days in the seventies, we often find ourselves eating dirt and cursing the wind.
However, the arrival of spring in Las Cruces brings the promise of beautiful strawberries and fragrant mint. As our crisp, cool weather gives way to the balmy days of spring, I am anxious to shift from the heavier meals of winter to lighter fare.
Spring drew on…and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.
― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
About the Spinach Salad
Spinach salad provides a tasty, nutritious backdrop for strawberries. They are a perfect pairing; not only do their colors and flavors complement one another, both strawberries and spinach are classified as “super foods.” This time of year, my refrigerator almost always contains a large 10 ounce tub of spinach, and at least a pint of strawberries.
A fruit, cheese, and nut combination is one I use a lot, and it pairs well with a fruity salad dressing. I keep a variety of nuts on hand – walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts, slivered and sliced almonds. I have used both hazelnuts and slivered almonds in this salad.
Rarely do I not have a colorful sweet bell pepper on hand, so all I had to pick up at the market for this salad was a small chunk of chèvre. Strawberries + chèvre=delicious!
So on this specific day, I combined baby spinach leaves, red and yellow sweet bell pepper strips, thin-sliced shallot, toasted hazelnuts, sliced strawberries (and a few raspberries), and that
all important chèvre.
About Raspberry Fresh Mint Vinaigrette & Making Salad Dressings
I am a strong proponent of making your own salad dressings. Commercial salad dressings are expensive, not fresh, and usually full of unhealthy ingredients. With a well-stocked pantry, coming up with a delicious salad dressing is a snap!
As soon as we bid adieu to freezing nights, the mint in my garden brightens and thrives. I am always looking for creative ways to use the mint, and the idea of using it in salad dressing spontaneously popped into my head after having used mint in a fruit salad recently.
My well-stocked pantry typically contains an assortment of vinegars, and the Alessi White Balsamic Raspberry Blush seemed an appropriate choice.
In deciding to use fresh mint from my garden, I recalled the lime and mint simple sugar syrup that I’d poured over a beautiful fruit salad on Easter Sunday. I knew the mint worked well with the strawberries, so I was confident it would work well on this spinach salad as well.
When putting together a salad dressing, a “recipe” isn’t really necessary. A ratio of oil to acid of 1:1 works really well for our household. Many recipes I’ve come across use a ratio of 1 part acid to 2 parts oil. I like a bright, acidic dressing, and it cuts the calories too!
So, let me explain the ratio concept and what I mean by oil and acid. The oil component can be olive oil, sesame oil, nut oils, grape seed oil, specialty infused oils, etc. You want to use strong-flavored oils sparingly such as sesame oil. I typically use them in combination with a milder oil like olive or grape seed. Even a high quality extra virgin olive oil would be considered strong-flavored, so I would be careful mixing it with another strong flavor.
The acid component is the vinegar or citrus juice. I love to combine a vinegar such as Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar with some fresh tangerine or orange juice. If you follow the 1:1 ratio, you would use 1/4 cup – total – of juice and vinegar with 1/4 cup – total – of your oil(s). In the previous example, I might use a blood orange infused olive oil with the juice and vinegar. The layered flavors on your salad will be spectacular!
Making Raspberry Fresh Mint vinaigrette is as simple as putting all the ingredients into the blender, and pulsing until it is completely smooth. Don’t forget to check for seasoning!
I have found that my mini bullet-style blender yields a smooth consistency without the leaking I get with liquids in my small food processor. A blender works well, but they aren’t as convenient. Of course you can use a shaker, but not all ingredients will coalesce.
Don’t limit this lovely vinaigrette to this specific combination of salad ingredients. I think you’ll find it dresses up most greens in combination with nuts, fruit, and cheese (optional).
More Spinach Salad Recipes with Vinaigrette
- Red White and Green Salad with Strawberry-Citrus Vinaigrette
- Spinach and Persimmon Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette
- Classic Spinach Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
So, what are you waiting for? Isn’t it time to start making your own fresh salad dressings?