Spinach Salad w/ Avocado & Walnuts

Salad is absolutely my favorite thing to make and eat, especially, with a crusty baguette.  Well, I guess anything is good with a baguette.  I think it all began when I was attempting to be healthy after graduate school, where my diet was horrible.  My food and drink consumption consisted of many cups or pots of coffee, overcooked “things” I occasionally had at 24 hour diners, and all simple carbohydrates.  So, when I graduated and began my career, I decided to go back to the way I used to eat, the way my mother taught me.  Salads were the first concoctions I made.  I found them to be so exciting, as I could make them with anything I liked.  I also experimented with many homemade dressings; however, I always seemed to go back to old faithful, my mother’s traditional Lebanese salad dressing made of freshly grated or mashed garlic, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil.  Fast forward nine years, now I am known as the “salad girl” among my family and close friends.  Allow me to share with you one of my favorite salads.

SPINACH SALAD WITH AVOCADO AND WALNUTS

4 ounces of organic baby Spinach
1 cup of cherry Tomatoes
2 Avocadoes
1/2 Green Olives – pitted and chopped
1/2 cup Italian Parsley – finely chopped
1/4 cup Mint
1/4 cup toastes Walnuts
1/4 cup toasted Almonds

Lebanese Salad Dressing

2 Lemons juiced
4 Garlic cloves – grated or mashed
1/2 cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper – freshly grated
a pinch of Red Chili Flakes (OPTIONAL)

In a large bowl, place the washed spinach and top it with sliced cherry tomatoes, diced avocado, chopped green olives, finely chopped Italian parsley, and chopped mint.  In a small bowl, you can grate the garlic with a microplane or mash it with a mortar and pestle.  Add the salt & pepper, lemon juice, and the extra virgin olive oil.  If you choose to add a bit of spice, mix a pinch of red chili flakes.

I usually buy raw walnuts and dry roasted almonds.  If you buy them both toasted, then great, you can omit this step.  If, however, you you buy them raw, then you may want to toast them on the stove or in the oven.  I believe the oven works best, but this time, I used the stove.  In a pan, toast the walnuts over medium low heat.  Be very careful not to burn them, as their natural oil allows them to burn very easily, if you neglect them, even for small moment.  After they are toasted to your liking, chop them on a dry cutting board, along with the almonds.  Add them to the salad.  Add the dressing and mix well.  Now plate and enjoy with your heavenly baguette.


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