Spinach, Mango and Avocado Salad

Did you ever have something wonderful come out of …………. nothing? That’s the story of this salad which has, in a very short, time become a favorite here at The Café. We were on the way home from church on Sunday and I was thinking about what to fix for lunch.We were both hungry and I knew it had to be something that would come together quickly.
We’re trying to eat a little lighter and leaner these days, with swimsuit weather soon to be arriving  ………..hmmm, something lean, light and quick. I just couldn’t think of anything that would fill the bill.  By the time we arrived back home ………….
………….. I still hadn’t come up with anything, no clue ……………… Looking in the fridge, I spotted a large box of fresh spinach and that got me going. A perfectly ripe mango and an avocado called to me from the fruit bowl. That red onion would add a bit of zip!

It was starting to sound good, but I wanted the salad to be a bit more hearty (we were hungry!). A few slices of applewood bacon caught my eye in the fridge along with a roll of creamy goat cheese. And for the dressing? ……………. Perfect! I’d been testing and tweaking a recipe for a really good balsamic vinaigrette and had a jar of the best of my efforts, right there on the top shelf.

Bacon was sizzling on the stovetop while I set about peeling, chopping and dicing. I threw it all together, and within 20 minutes, we were happy as two little pigs in mud. We pretty much inhaled the wonderful salad topped with a scatter of Sweet & Spicy Honey-Sriracha Roasted Pecans w/ Fresh Rosemary. Two Buttermilk Honey 5-Minute Dinner Rolls had been pulled from the freezer and warmed. It was a super yummy lunch, even though it was “something out of ….. nothing”. I honestly, had no intention of sharing it with you, but ……………

“This is AMAZING!”, my husband declared as he took the first bite. “The flavors are incredible”. You HAVE to write this one down.  “Now”, he said. “Now?”, I asked. “Yup, here’s your computer, just jot down what you put in this, you know you probably won’t remember it in a day or so since there are at least a zillion other recipes swirling around in your brain!”. I often forget the ingredients, or how I put a certain dish together, as I get inspired with new culinary adventures. So I did …………. and here it is. Hope you like it as much as we did.

P.S. He also told me we HAD to get pictures and blog this one. So we had the same salad again for dinner, shot some photos and enjoyed it just as much the second time!

Oh, and I’m finding the dressing is fabulous drizzled on grilled meat, seafood or poultry, sandwiches, veggies, you name it! It’s sweet, mild and yet bursting with flavor!

Spinach, Mango & Avocado Salad w/ Applewood Bacon, Toasted Pecans & Balsamic-Champagne Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
8 cups baby spinach
1 medium mango – peeled, cored and diced
1 medium ripe avacado – peeled, cored and cut in bite size pieces
½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
8 strips applewood bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips, cooked until crisp and drained well
½ cup toasted pecans*, even better use these amazing Honey-Siracha Roasted Pecans
3-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled**
Balsamic Champagne Vinaigrette, see recipe below

Instruction:
Divide spinach among four plates. Equally distribute mango, avocado and red onion over spinach. Drizzle with vinaigrette and scatter with goat cheese and pecans.

Notes:
~ * To toast pecans, just bake in a 350˚F oven for 5-8 minutes or until golden. I always use a timer as they can burn quite easily and that makes me cry.
~ ** To make goat cheese a bit easier to crumble, place in freezer for 15-20 minutes in advance.
Balsamic Champagne Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon finely minced shallot
1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons champagne vinegar , I like Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, it’s delicious and not terribly expensive
2 tablespoons honey
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons finely minced fresh rosemary
⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions:
Combine shallots, mustard vinegars, honey and salt and pepper in a glass jar. Stir well to combine. Allow to sit for 5-10 minutes, this will soften and mellow the shallots. Add olive oil and shake vigorously until combined.



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