Secret Recipe Club time, holla! There are a ton of us in this, not so secret club, now. It’s rad! I look forward to ‘reveal day’ every month to see all the fantastic recipes that have been made. And quite honestly, I also look forward to seeing who got my blog. Of aaaaall the recipes they could have picked, why THAT one? I can’t help but think that…

So then, why do I chose the recipes I do? What made me pick THIS recipe, of aaaall the recipes on Creative Kitchen Adventures, why a salad dressing??? I love salad, period.

After reading pretty much every tidbit on Denise’s blog I concluded she’s an amazing woman, mom and wife.
By the way, using words like ‘concluded’ make me feel like I’m writing a paper for college…I digress… She does the best she can to feed her family well. And by well I don’t just mean ‘down home cookin.’ I mean well, like healthy well. I appreciate that, so much! GO DENISE! Given that, I decided I needed to make a salad. Ok wait, I did make her caramelized onion and cheese omelet too. But I scarfed that before I could take a picture. And her brownie cookies, I think I had a dream about them on Thursday night. Those will for sure be made in the very near future!

One of the great things about the SRC club is you can modify the recipe you choose. While I didn’t modify the vinaigrette, I did modify the actual ‘salad’ ingredients. I modified simply because well, I used what I had on hand. That’s all. Don’t think for a second I wouldn’t LOVE the spring mix with apples and raisins…do you know I’m like REALLY into raisins? I can’t be trusted around them,. I’ll eat an entire pack. And not the little snack size ‘I got my hand stuck because the boxes are so small’ size. I mean the jumbo bags from Costco.

A few notes on the dressing:

1. I added all the dressing ingredients in a blender to see what would happen. I mean, besides the obvious, it would blend. Duh. I wanted to see if blending it would prevent oil/vinegar separation. You know how at restaurants their salad dressings seem to not separate? How do they do that? Well, my little experiment shed light on their secret: a blender. At least for me, when I added these ingredients to a blender, cranked it up for only about 30 seconds, my dressing stayed almost 100% mixed for an entire week in the fridge.

2. My mom taught me a few years ago that adding water to salad dressings help save a buck. Add a little water, which is practically free, and it will help spread out your dressing for another couple salads. Th water isn’t 100% necessary, although, it doesn’t impact the integrity of the taste of the dressing and it saves a few pennies, soooo, it’s worth a shot.

3. You can add any ‘flavorings’ to the dressing. Roasted garlic, basil, shallots, onions…This is a great dressing as is, or as a base for adding additional flavors.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
Recipe from Creative Kitchen Adventures

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1-2 tbsp water (more or less depending on the consistency you want)
2 tbsp honey (can be replaced with agave or brown sugar)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions
Place all ingredients into a small jar (canning jar). Anything with a lid works well.
Shake to mix thoroughly. Stores in fridge for 1-2 weeks.

*Or use my blending method: throw everything in the blender, blend for about 30 seconds, then store in a jar for 1-2 weeks.

Salad
Makes 2 salads (Salads pictured were made in 32 oz mason jars)

1 cup cooked quinoa
2 big handfuls spinach
1 cup chopped mushrooms
1 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 red onion, diced
4 tbsp balsamic vinagrette

Layer the ingredients in the jar as follows:
dressing
onion
mushrooms
tomatoes
quinoa
spinach

The most important part of the layering is making sure the dressing and the spinach (or whatever ‘leaf’ you choose) don’t touch. As long as they stay separate, these salads can be made up to 4 days in advance and will stay fresh in the fridge with a lid on. This is one of my tricks to eating salad everyday for lunch at work. I make a few jars on Sunday night and just grab one to bring to work everyday. When you’re ready to eat, just shake it up.

Remember the McSalad Shakers form Mc Donald’s? Now THAT was a great idea! Ever since then, I shake my salads.

*UPDATE (February 2012): Prior to this post pretty much going viral I hadn’t googled ‘salad in a jar.’ However, now I have. And WOW! There are some great other sites and blog posts about making salads in a jar. Some of which were inspired by this post, others were around far before this post existed. Someone else even drew a cartoon of it. It makes me super excited because that means more and more people are eating salads, HOORAY!