Salads are so underrated. I cannot tell you how many people I have come across who either shy away from or downright despise salads for one reason or another. Some people simply don’t care for vegetables and want nothing at all to do with them, while others are convinced that salads are tasteless and boring. Still, there are others who really enjoy eating salads—as long as no one asks them to put one together. Salads have been one of my favorite meals since I was a kid. Can you imagine? A kid who actually liked eating a plate full of veggies! Well, over the years I have created countless salads that are as tasty as they are beautiful. When it comes to my salads, there is nothing boring or bland about them!
I love to eat salads year round, but my absolute favorite time to whip up a salad is during the summer. Summer not only brings the warm sunshine, but a whole host of delectable seasonal produce. With the temperatures rising throughout the summer months, salads can be a great snack, lunch or dinner option if you’re looking to eat light, stay cool and keep your diet on the straight and narrow. If you build your salad with the right fuel, you’ll have plenty of energy to make the most of your summer!
Though I’m admittedly obsessed with all of my salad recipes, this White & Blue Cran-Nectarine Salad is hands down one of my favorites. When I say that I eat this all the time, I’m dead serious. There are times when I prepare this every single day for two or three weeks at a time—it’s that good. A little sweet and a little salty, this summer salad’s flavors are perfectly balanced. It’s light, fruity and earthy all at the same time. With only six ingredients, it’s super easy to throw this together in a hurry and still look as though you are a master salad maker. Whether you are looking for something to wow guests with while entertaining or you simply want an envy-inspiring lunch to take to work, this salad is sure to do the trick.
Things You Need
Trader Joe’s shoppers, rejoice! If you typically frequent Trader Joe’s, you can actually have the same exact salad I create because they sell everything that I traditionally use for this recipe (please read below to find out what I specifically purchase there). Of course, I sometimes make it with ingredients that have come from other stores—and you can too!
What is great about this particular recipe is that you do not have to make your own dressing (although you still could). You simply need some variation of the ingredients listed below. I must admit though…using the exact same ingredients is truly the best experience (in my opinion). You know how you might like one brand of strawberry yogurt, but dislike another brand? Not all brands are created equal. However, if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s nearby or don’t fancy shopping there, simply stick to brands you already love. Easy peasy! 😛
- Mixed salad greens (any variety that you prefer)
- Yellow nectarine (one medium sized fruit is sufficient, but you can add more or less)
- Blue cheese (solid slices or crumbled is A-okay)
- Dried cranberries
- Unshelled roasted pumpkin seeds (salted or unsalted)
- Cranberry or raspberry vinaigrette
- Black pepper (optional)
Directions & Extra Info
Salad Greens. Let’s start off by grabbing a plate (or bowl) and setting up a nice, leafy foundation for our salad with some mixed greens. If you have a particular mixture of greens that you prefer, feel free to use them. Whether you like arugula, romaine, iceberg, or radicchio, the more color and variety you can use, the better. You can sprinkle on some black pepper to taste as well.
I personally like using Trader Joe’s Les Salads du Midi Champs Elysees because it’s convenient (pre-washed and pre-chopped). Complete with frisée (endive), radicchio, green lettuce and shredded carrots, the greens are varied and delicately flavored. I also tend to enjoy adding a few organic spinach leaves in there as well. As an excellent source of calcium, folate and a handful of essential vitamins, spinach is a healthful green to add to any salad.
Yellow Nectarine. Next, let’s cut up and add our yellow nectarine to the salad. How you cut it is completely up to you. Sometimes I like to cut mine into spears while other times I cut them into cubes. Either way, the nectarine will still add the fresh and sweet crunch that I love so much. Many summer salads feature fresh fruit as a cool and refreshing way to add texture and additional flavor. I love using nectarines because they tend to stay crisp even when subjected to dressings. Nectarines are also awesome additions due to their health benefits. Nectarines are a good source of Vitamin C (rev up your immune system) and Beta-Carotene (boost your body’s Vitamin A levels).
Blue Cheese. Evenly distribute your blue cheese all over the salad. A little goes a long way with this pungent, but delicious ingredient (although I tend to add a little extra sometimes). Easily the star of this salad (and certainly where it gets the ‘white and blue’ of its name from), blue cheese helps to balance out the fruity sweetness by providing an earthen saltiness. Though relatively high in fat, blue cheese is a flavorful and otherwise healthful cheese to cook with. Not only is it high in calcium and protein, but it is a good source of Vitamin B-12 as well.
Trader Joe’s Crumbled Blue Cheese has proven itself to be the best blue cheese I’ve tried with this recipe. Not too strong and not too weak, it adds just the right amount of salt. The crumbles tend to be just large enough to have a burst of flavor in every bite without being overpowering or overly…well, stinky. 😛
Dried Cranberries. Now we are ready to add a handful (or more) of dried cranberries to the mix. My personal favorite is Trader Joe’s Dried Cranberries. They are perfectly sweet, but never too sour. Dried fruit (including cranberries) are ideal additions for fall/winter salads and they pair perfectly with cream dressings. However, I like to also use cranberries in my vinaigrette-topped summer salads because their sweet and slightly tart flavor tends to go very well with fresh fruits. Plus, they add a delightful chewy texture to the salad. Layering flavors and textures is what I think makes a salad special.
Let’s not forget about how much our bodies love cranberries! Cranberries are a superfood, which means that they are jam packed with antioxidants. As a high source of Vitamin C, cranberries (both fresh and dried) are also capable of lowering blood pressure and maintaining good urinary health.
Pumpkin Seeds. Ready to toss on a handful of pumpkin seeds? I tend to use Trader Joe’s Dry Roasted and Lightly Salted Pumpkin Seeds because they taste great and the bag seems to last forever. The pumpkin seeds go hand in hand with the blue cheese because they both add a little saltiness and earthiness to the plate. The roasted seeds really bring out the nuttiness in the cheese while taming down the acidity and sweetness of the fruit.
Pumpkin seeds are awesome little things. They have so many useful health benefits! As a source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid), pumpkin seeds can provide us with the Omega-3 fatty acids we need to fight inflammation, depression and heart disease caused by triglycerides. Pumpkin seeds also contain zinc (good for immune health) and tryptophan (to help you sleep better). And if you’re looking for something to help improve liver health, pumpkin seeds are good for that too.
Vinaigrette. Our last step is to drizzle the dressing! Although any cranberry (or raspberry) vinaigrette will do, my absolute favorite store-bought dressing has to be Trader Joe’s Cranberry, Walnut and Gorgonzola salad dressing. I love this dressing and have to buy several bottles at a time because I never want to be without it! Having a fruity vinaigrette is what ties everything in this salad together. You’ve got the sweet cranberry, the woodsy walnut and the sharp salty flavor of the gorgonzola.
Although I have tried many raspberry vinaigrettes at the store (that I don’t care much for), cranberry dressings can be very hard to find. The dried cranberries and blue cheese matches this particular dressing to a T, so I highly recommend trying it out if you can. You could also make your very own cranberry vinaigrette at home—I’d be happy to show you guys how to do so in another post.
Voilà! Now you can conjure up an ultra easy summer salad at the drop of a hat. This is a great salad to have by itself (as I did for dinner today), but it’s also excellent side dish to grilled chicken or fish. So if you’ve been wanting to make more salads, but you weren’t quite sure what to put together, try this out! If you do, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. Heck, give me your thoughts on this recipe even if you don’t try it—let’s chit chat. 🙂
Hmm…what recipe should I share next? I suppose I’ll have to wait until my next stroke of culinary inspiration hits! I’d love to do a cocktail…or maybe even a sweet treat. Whatever it is, it will be wonderfully inspired by the summer season and all of the wonderful things it brings. So, ’til next time…stay golden! ❤