Strawberries and candied walnuts on top of a bed of spinach with a blackberry vinaigrette.
You know those incredibly addicting nuts they sell at sports games and the mall on those little stand alone carts? Usually they are almonds or pecans. Hot and covered in crystalized sugary goodness. And you can smell them from anywhere within a 50 yard radius. The smell entices you away from whatever was holding your interest and pulls you devilishly toward the source of the tempting aroma. I don’t know what their official name is because whenever I read the label on the packaging all I see is “For a good time, eat me”. So I call them Slutty Nuts. And you totally get that. Cause you know they do that taunting thing to you too.
The first time I ever tried those nuts I was 10 years old. It was back when the winter Olympics came to Salt Lake City. I don’t think I really appreciated that as much as I would now, but I still thought it was pretty neat. I remember my sister taking me to one of the venues during the events. I don’t even remember what we were going to see. I just remember it was cold cold cold.
I remember winding through a bazillion people wearing those beret hats from Roots, looking at ice sculptures, and suddenly it hit me. That alluring smell. I had no clue what it was or where it was coming from but I knew that whatever it was… it had to be pretty incredible. My sister must have gotten the smell right about the same time because she pulled me over to a big cart (I was little so of course it seemed big) where they had these big ice cream cone shaped bags that were taped shut and I could tell that the heavenly smell I was experiencing was definitely coming from those cones.
My sister bought a bag to share with me and I’ve been hooked ever since.
I was craving some this weekend like you wouldn’t believe. And I had an assignment for Sunday dinner with my in laws. Salad. So I just combined my want and my need and thew together a salad I could top with some of my beloved Slutty Nuts. Today I used walnuts. Which makes for a beautiful experience when thrown on top of some light greens and a deep and delicious blackberry dressing.
A word to the wise… double the dressing. You’re gonna want it for those mid-week lunch salads. Or just alone with a spoon. Your call.
Spring Salad & Slutty Nuts
- 3-4 cups mixed spring greens
- 3-4 cups baby spinach leaves
- 2 cups strawberries, hulled and quartered
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup blackberry preserves
- 4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 teaspoons sugar
- pinch of salt and pepper
- 1-2 tablespoons water
- Toss spring greens, spinach leaves, and strawberries in a large bowl. Pour walnuts in a wide sauce pan and sprinkle with cinnamon. Toast on medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes. Add sugars and vanilla.
- Watch carefully until sugar starts to melt, then stir constantly until sugar is completely caramelized and nuts are thoroughly coated. Remove from heat and allow to cool on a baking sheet. When completely cooled, sprinkle nuts on top of salad.
- Combine all ingredients except water in a bowl. Whisk until completely combined (may be combined in a blender). Add water slowly until desired consistency is reached. Chill in fridge at least 30 minutes before serving.