I'd love this flavorful salad with arugula, red grapes, Manchego cheese, and almonds for Thanksgiving or Christmas; it's the dressing with pureed grapes that makes this salad so special. It's amazing with Manchego, but if you don't want to buy a special cheese, just use Parmesan.
I've been talking with my sister Val about Thanksgiving dinner plans, so I think the countdown to Thanksgiving has officially begun, and this amazing Arugula Salad with Red Grapes, Manchego, and Almonds is something that I'm excited to add to the list of Carb-Conscious Thanksgiving Recipes. The slightly bitter and spicy flavor of arugula is tamed in a delicious way by the grapes and the grape-infused dressing, and the Manchego adds the perfect touch of savoriness to the salad. And if you don't have time to make the grape-infused dressing on Thanksgiving, I think this salad would still be wonderful with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Manchego is an amazingly delicious nutty-flavored cheese from Spain, but if it's not in the budget or you don't want to buy cheese just for one salad, any type of dry cheese that can be shaved with a vegetable peeler could be substituted.
Soak the baby arugula in very cold water for a few minutes to crisp the leaves; then spin dry in a salad spinner. (I like to pull off the stems, especially if I'm taking pictures of the salad.)
Wash two cups of red grapes, then dry and cut them in half. (You can use a lot less grapes if you want to reduce the sugar in the salad.) If you're making the grape-infused dressing, take out about 20 grape halves and cut them in half again.
Use a food processor or mini-blender to chop the grapes even more; then add the red onion, vinegar, agave, and olive oil and process to make the dressing. It will be lumpy. (If you don't have time for this, just use a flavorful balsamic vinaigrette for the salad.)
Shave 2-3 tablespoons of thin Manchego slices (or use another type of dry, nutty-flavored cheese like Parmesan, Asiago, or Pecorino-Romano.)
Then add the arugula to the grapes and toss with enough dressing to moisten the salad to your liking. Serve on individual plates, with some Manchego and almonds topping each salad.
Arugula, Red Grape, and Shaved Manchego Salad with Almonds
(Makes 4-6 salads; recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.
5 oz. baby arugula, washed and spin dry (and stems removed if desired)
2 cups red grapes, cut in half (reserve 10 grapes for dressing; if you're watching your sugar you can use far less grapes and still have a good salad)
2-3 T shaved Manchego (or more)
2-3 T sliced almonds, toasted
10 chopped grapes
1 T finely diced red onion (or use a pinch of onion powder)
1 T sherry or balsamic vinegar
1 T agave nectar (I used raw agave)
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
(If you don't want to make your own dressing, use 4 T of flavorful balsamic vinaigrette)
Put the arugula in a salad spinner and soak in very cold water for a few minutes to crisp the leaves. (I like to pull off the stems before I soak it, but that is definitely optional.) Drain arugula and spin until it's very dry. (If you don't have a salad spinner, soak arugula in a bowl and then drain and dry well with paper towels.)
Wash the grapes, dry well, and cut in half. If you're making the grape-infused dressing, chop about 20 of the grape halves in half again and process in a food processor or mini-chopper. Add the finely minced onion, vinegar, and agave and blend until it's chunky, then add the olive oil and blend again. (The dressing will be fairly thin.) Put the rest of the grapes in a bowl large enough to hold all the salad ingredients and toss with about 2 tablespoons of the dressing.
Use a vegetable peeler to make thin slices of Manchego (or whatever cheese you're using.) Toast the sliced almonds in a dry pan for a minute or two (just until the nuts start to get fragrant.)
Add the arugula to the bowl with the marinating grapes and toss with enough dressing to moisten the salad to your liking. Serve on individual plates, topping each salad with some Manchego slices and toasted almonds.
Much of the preparation for this salad could be done in advance and stored in the fridge until later in the day. Crisp the arugula and store in a Ziploc bag, wash and slice grapes and store in a snap-tight container, mix the vinaigrette and store in a jar. Allow time to let the dressing come to room temperature before you mix the salad.
South Beach Diet Suggestions:
Arugula, cheese, and almonds are good low-glycemic ingredients for the South Beach Diet, but if you're actively trying to lose weight this salad has quite a bit of sugar from the grapes as well as some saturated fat from the cheese. I'd consider this a "once in a while treat" for phase 2 or 3 of the diet, and you might want to use less grapes if you're seriously dieting.
Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use the Recipes by Diet Type photo index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Fun Salad Ideas for the Holidays:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Vietnamese-American Thanksgiving Salad from Viet World Kitchen
Fresh Berry Salad with Creamy Raspberry Dressing from Jeanette's Healthy Living
Green Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Lemon-Mustard Vinaigrette from Kalyn's Kitchen
Sweet Potato Salad with Raspberries and Pecans from Homesick Texan
Thanksgiving Spinach Salad with Dried Cranberries, Almonds, and Goat Cheese from Kalyn's Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)