Saturday, November 03, 2007

Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese

Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat CheeseYes, I'm on a quest for low-glycemic Thanksgiving Recipes around here, and it's slightly ironic that after I spent a couple of hours looking through past November issues of my favorite food magazines earlier today, I marched into the kitchen and came up with this salad without a recipe except the one I made up in my head. I had spinach in the fridge that needed to be used, and last night I did my Friday night Costco thing and picked up dried cranberries and sliced almonds, just because they seemed like Thanksgiving necessities, and the recipe to combine those ingredients with creamy goat cheese just came together like it was meant to be. This is a simple recipe anyone could make, and I ate the entire salad while I was waiting for the photos to download from the camera, so that's the sign of a good recipe!

Cranberries are so traditional for Thanksgiving and I think the small amount used here really gives the salad a Thanksgiving feel. Still, dried fruits are higher in concentrated sugar than fresh fruit, so if you're a South Beach dieter, keep the amount of dried cranberries low compared to other ingredients. Of course if you're making this on Thanksgiving Day and you're wanting a splurge, this salad is still going to be a pretty healthy alternative to some of the things you might be eating even if you loaded on the dried cranberries, so enjoy!

Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese
(Makes 4 servings, recipe created by Kalyn and possibly inspired by this salad or this salad, although I didn't remember it at the time!)

5-6 oz. baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2-3 oz. goat cheese (the type that comes in a log like Montrachet or Chevre)

Dressing Ingredients:
1 T white balsamic vinegar (could use regular balsamic)
1/2 tsp. Agave nectar (could use Splenda or honey)
2 T olive oil
pinch of salt

Wash spinach if needed and spin dry, then place in large bowl. Whisk together balsamic vinegar, agave nectar and salt, then whisk in olive oil. Toss spinach leaves with dressing. Arrange spinach on individual serving plates and sprinkle each salad with dried cranberries, sliced almonds, and goat cheese. Serve immediately.

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South Beach Suggestions:
This recipe is part of my suggestions for Low Glycemic Thanksgiving Recipes for 2007. I also shared a lot of good South Beach Diet Thanksgiving Menu Ideas last year. Whether or not you're on a diet, I do recommend you enjoy Thanksgiving and not get too hung up on what you're eating! However, if you need to stick to a low-glycemic eating plan, or simply want to watch what you're eating, these recipes can help.

More Ideas with Dried Cranberries:
Double Berry Jello Salad
Wild Rice Cranberry Pecan Salad from Simply Recipes
Zucchini Cranberry Quinoa Pilaf from Superspark
Cranberry Walnut Coleslaw from Slashfood
Chestnut, Cranberry, and Pear Stuffing from A Mingling of Tastes
Dried Cranberry, Grape, and Pine Nut Salad from Cafe Lynnylu
Baby Greens, Almond and Cranberry Salad from Kirsten's Home cooking

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  1. Kalyn, this looks really fantastic.

    Here, cranberries are not common and dried ones are only just making it onto the scene. Also goats cheese is relatively expensive. But the dish looks so delicious, so simple yet really inviting. I am going to save it for our summer holiday season (Dec - Jan).

  2. I love dried cranberries, and hats off, really, to Ocean Spray for marketing them now as "craisins." You can find them in my local markets in the produce section, near the nuts and other dried fruits.

  3. Great salad Kalyn and it's funny how 2 people can be thinking about the same foods. I was going to post my spinach salad today but now I'll wait a bit!

  4. Peter, never too many spinach salads. Please post yours and I will add it to my links!

  5. You're the best resource for fresh food recipes...they are always amazing!!!

  6. What a lovely recipe, Kalyn ... definitely one to try, even though we don't celebrate Thanksgiving. It's a beautiful looking winter salad, full of goodness - just what's wanted when there's no lettuce or other salad greens

    Thanks for sharing!


  7. This looks yummy. I've made salads that are similar using toasted pinenuts or candied nuts instead of almonds. Almonds are probably way more healthy.
    I've never tried agave necture though.
    Looks good.

  8. Looks really good. Anything with goat cheese. This could probably be on a Christmas buffet also.

  9. I like this recipe Kalyn, I lke spinach so Gloria

  10. Kalyn I really hope you were downloading a LOT of photos or your downloading is really slow otherwise you're really woofing your food ;))
    The salad looks and sounds really fabulous and one I know I will be making. I can never be getting too much spinach or cranberries.

  11. Meeso, thanks! I try to find interesting things to cook.

    Joanna, I agree, perfect for winter.

    Chigiy, agave nectar is really very tasty, and it's completely natural. The amber type tastes a lot like honey.

    Helene, great idea. I didn't think about the colors, but it looks very Christmas-like.

    Gloria, me too, thanks.

    Tanna, laughing here. I usually have 100+ photos, so it does take a while. I will try to eat more slowly and not wolf down my food! I promise!

  12. Yum! This is a salad I could grab onto! I love dried cranberries. Funny thing is - I remember interning at an ad agency in college in Boston on the Ocean Spray account...They had me in an office once, glueing a "new product" to fill a map of the US - a product they called Craisins. If I knew then what I know now!

  13. i am always at a slight loss when it comes to making salads and coming up with interesting ingredients for them.
    this one sounds delicious. perfect for thanksgiving indeed!

  14. I love dried cranberries! I just made a similar salad (right down to the goat cheese). I've found that grape seed oil is a really nice alternative to olive oil in salad dressings. My dressing for my similar salad was white basalmic, grape seed oil, a little bit of all fruit raspberry jam (the natural sugars might now work with the diet you are on), and a squirt of a course ground mustard.

    I don't usually comment here but I've recently fallen in love with dried cranberries so I thought I would say hi.

  15. That's just the way I cook - "er, um, what needs using up in the fridge? Oh I know, we'll make this!" The only problem is that selection of ingredients seldom coincides so fortuitously in my fridge again ;-) Salad looks awesome. I'm a late arrival on the cranberry scene but am now addicted to dried cranberries...

  16. ohhhhhhhhhhhh I am certainly going to do this salad it looks fabulous.. our wedding is the weekend before Tgiving .. so this will be an easy salad to make... for Tgiving.. not too much work.. and I love stuff that looks and tastes like I worked harder than I did LOL

  17. Very good. I make a baby spinach salad with craisins (well, fruit-sweetened organic dried cranberries these days), the occasional grape tomato, nuts (sliced almonds are my fave) and crumbled blue cheese with a maple-balsamic vinaigrette (equal measures balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil--but agave nectar would be a perfect sub). I'm actually planning that salad to go with my Tgiving meal--along with another favorite: pureed white beans instead of mashed potatoes! Mmm!

  18. Looks great! I love dried cranberries in my salad...I usually do one with feta, almonds, and craisins, with a maple mustard dressing! So pretty for fall/winter too!

  19. Yum! I love all these ingredients & especially like the addition of cranberries. Cheers! Heather

  20. I buy all ingredients for this at Trader Joe's. Delicious salad! I make it often.

  21. This is just like one that I make often, I just never had a recipe. Would like your permission to share this on my site (giving you credit, of course).

    1. Dawn, I give permission to share the photo if accompanied by a link to get the recipe from my site (and as long as the recipe itself is not reprinted with the photo.) Thanks; glad you like it.


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