Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Blueberry Lemon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

I was already planning on writing about this salad we invented last week, when I learned that July is National Blueberry Month! It was meant to be! This week, I'll share two blueberry recipes that we've made recently. For the first, let's go the savory direction. I needed to come up with a side salad to take to an informal dinner party. The main course was grilled steak, and I wanted to make some sort of summery green salad that had fruit in it too. It doubled as dessert!

I was recently in Des Moines with my best friend Shannon, and we visited an amazing store there called Allspice. Besides having an awesome selection of dried herbs and spices, they have an area in the back with dispensers of various flavors of olive oil and balsamic vinegars. With tiny cups for tasting! It was incredible! It warrants many exclamation points!!! Kent is a master vinaigrette maker, so I had to get some choice balsamics for him as an early birthday gift. (It's no coincidence that I benefit from this gift, too!) After tasting almost all of the vinegars, I decided on a sampler pack of my choice of flavors- four smaller bottles for $36, which appears to be available in the store, but not online. I went with Peach, Cinnamon Pear, Dark Chocolate and Blueberry. We happened to have some blueberries in the fridge already, so a salad inspiration was born! I'd already had the idea to pair lemon zest with blueberries, but then Kent found this amazing Stilton cheese at the gourmet cheese island at Hy-Vee, and it really took it to the next level. If you can't find it, a mild blue cheese or goat cheese would work as well.

Blueberry Lemon Salad with Blueberry Vinaigrette

2 bags of prewashed salad greens, we prefer Butter lettuce
   (or a combination of butter lettuce with another salad green, like Frisee)
1 pint blueberries
1 cup pecan halves
1 medium shallot, thinly sliced
1 large lemon, zested
1/2 cup lemon infused Stilton cheese, crumbled

1 part blueberry vinegar
1 part white balsamic vinegar
1 part powdered stevia
1 part granulated Splenda
1 part canola oil
1 part olive oil

Use equal parts of each ingredient. (1/4 cup of each will make a generous batch of dressing to be used for multiple salads.) Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake well to combine. We used half and half with the vinegars to conserve our fancy ingredient, and I'm glad we did, because it is plenty flavorful, even tempered by half cheaper white balsamic. We also prefer the flavor of half and half  ratios with the sweeteners and the oils. It's kind of hard to explain why, but they just seem more balanced and full when combined, rather just relying on one kind.

This salad was so good, we made it again a few days later, but this time, we used a blueberry Stilton cheese, pictured above, which is also found at Hy-Vee. It was really good, but I liked the lemon cheese just a little more. The lemon seemed a little more subtle and ethereal. Two of my favorite qualities in an ingredient.

On Thursday, we will continue with our blueberry celebration, and I'll share my recipe for blueberry cheesecake fat bombs!

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