Salads can be boring.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a good salad as a precursor to a meal – there is nothing like a classic Caesar pre-pasta, or a crisp spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigrette before a hearty meal.
Butttt, they almost never fill me up, and they rarely replace an actual meal.
However, every once in a while I find a salad that becomes my life. I’ll have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner, be completely satisfied and then ready to have it again the next day – that’s when you know it’s a winner.
This particular salad is adapted from a salad that had become my life in the last year, I almost always order it at one of my favorite restaurants just a few blocks from my house, and always leave a happy, full girl.
Before I discovered this salad, I had frequented this restaurant hundreds of times and not so much as glanced at the salad the section (their bruschettas, pastas and apps are to-die-for and left me lusting after them time and time again), but one day I was feeling particularly full from a bevy of bruschetta apps we gorged on previously, so I took a chance and went with a light salad instead of my usual order of pasta.
They had the option to add grilled chicken, shrimp or salmon and since I live and breathe salmon I went that route and prayed for the best.
What arrived in front of me was more than just a salad. It was a meal. A meal full of crispy, perfectly cooked salmon, sweet dates, smoky roasted red peppers, crunchy almonds and the most delicious honey vinaigrette.
I savored every single morsel of that salad, and practically licked the bowl clean. Since that day, I’ve probably had it at least 20 times, and now, I’ve even resorted to making it at home when my husband doesn’t feel like making the five minute trek to go out to dinner.
What I love about this, is that it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, since you basically just throw all of the ingredients together, sear the salmon and whip up the dressing tallying for a total preparation time of under 20 minutes.
I just buy pre-portioned salmon pieces at the grocery store, but if salmon isn’t your thing, a hearty mahi mahi, jumbo prawns or even rare ahi tuna would sub perfectly. If seafood isn’t your thing at all, a liberally seasoned chicken breast would also work perfectly.
The dressing is just a simple balsamic honey vinaigrette made with good-quality balsamic vinegar, thick honey, tangy Dijon mustard, fresh garlic and olive oil. I throw all of the ingredients into the blender or mini food processor, then drizzle in the olive oil until the mixture homogenous and silky smooth.
Season with salt and pepper and you’re done. I even make double batches of the stuff, use what I need for that night and then seal the rest in a mason jar so that it’s ready to use whenever I need it.
For my version, I went with a spring combo of spinach, arugula and mixed green, PLENTY of sweet dates (you can usually find them amongst the produce and specialty items at the grocery store), store-bought roasted red peppers (why waste time making them yourself when you can buy them?), toasted macadamia nuts (any variety of nut will work) and……………
Throw everything together, toss with vinaigrette, season with salt and pepper and top with your perfectly seared salmon filet.
Dinner is done.
- 2 5 ounce boneless salmon filets
- 5 cups mixed greens
- ½ cup sliced dates
- ½ cup roughly chopped roasted red peppers
- ½ cup cubed fontina cheese
- 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1½ tablespoons +2 teaspoons olive oil
- Season salmon with salt and pepper.
- In a large bowl toss together, lettuce, dates, peppers and cheese.
- In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard, honey, salt and garlic. Slowly whisk in 1½ tablespoons of olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Heat a medium non-stick skillet to a medium-high heat. Add remaining olive oil. Sear salmon until crispy on both sides and until desired temperature on the inside. About 3 minutes per side for medium-well.
- Once salmon has cooked, remove from heat and set aside.
- Toss salad with vinaigrette and then top with seared salmon.