Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Spinach Salad with Caramelized Onions, Candied Walnuts and Feta: Trying to be an adult in a kids' world

For the moms that want to eat for themselves and not for others.

As a mom of three small children, I often find myself cooking the foods that I know will most please my children.  I tend to travel on the path of least resistance, meaning I cook the dishes I know my kids will like as long as they are nutritionally balanced and offer some variety.  There are many times I see a recipe and think, "Oh, but the kids won't like it" and so I won't cook it, because no one likes cooking something that the family rejects, and no one likes cooking more than necessary.  If there is a sure-fire meal, then that's what gets banged out in the kitchen.

But I had in mind and in belly, a craving for a delicious salad.  I wanted something complex, delicious, and perhaps not likable by the kids. But I decided that it was okay to go ahead and make something that potentially only I would enjoy.  While the kids were at school, I threw together this salad, and it was so yummy, I couldn't stop eating it.  I may have eaten two person's portion instead of a single portion.  But it was no matter, because it tasted so yummy and I thoroughly enjoyed eating something for myself.

Interestingly enough, Daughters #1 and #2 came around and stared into my beautiful salad bowl and started clamoring, "Hey, I want a piece of feta cheese" and "Oooh, can I have a candied walnut" and before I knew it, both Daughters were eating the salad too.

Which just goes to show you (and me), I should never assume what will be eaten by my family. Note taken, and so more adventurous cooking ahead for me.
Spinach Salad with Caramelized Onions, Candied Walnuts and Feta
Serves 10

Caramelized onions
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds red onions, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Candied walnuts
1/3 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
Large pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups walnut halves

Salad
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10 oz of baby spinach
10 oz of feta cheese, crumbled or cut into cubes
For caramelized onions
Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions. Sauté until golden, about 18 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with vinegar; stir to blend. Season with salt and pepper.

For candied walnuts
Combine first 4 ingredients in another heavy large skillet. Bring to boil, whisking. Boil 1 minute. Add walnuts; stir. Toss until syrup forms glaze on nuts, about 3 minutes. Transfer nuts to sheet of foil and quickly separate nuts with forks. Cool. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Final Assembly
Whisk oil and vinegar in small bowl. Season dressing with salt and pepper.
Place spinach in very large bowl. Drop in onions, tossing to distribute evenly. Add nuts and feta. Toss with enough dressing to coat lightly.

Printable recipe

3 comments:

Natalie said...

I read this nodding my head in agreement. You're nicer than I am, though. I still make what I want to make and try to get my kids to eat it (within reason... there's no way they'd ever eat a main dish salad). They're getting less picky, I think.

This salad looks awesome... so many of my favorite things mixed together. Thanks for sharing!

Carla said...

Gorgeous pic and your easy recipe had me craving this salad all afternoon so I had to make it even though I only had pecans and aged parmesan. It turned out DELICIOUS!!! I can't wait to make it again this weekend after I've made a trip to the grocery store. Love your site!!!

Joanne Choi said...

Carla - your version with the aged Parmesan and pecans sounds delicious as well! Throw some cranberries into that and you have a different version of the salad!

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