Despite what looks like an excessive ice cream intake, during hot weather I also eat a lot of chilled salads and smoothies as a healthy way to keep cooler. With no stove or oven required, it doesn’t add heat to either me or the house, and they are quick to throw together. My fridge is always filled with an array of fresh produce, but during the summertime I make extra sure to have plenty of salad ingredients on hand.
Spinach is my go to base since I use it in everything from soups to scrambled eggs to smoothies, and there’s always a hefty bag of it from Costco. I don’t usually have a specific flavor palate in mind, but throw on whichever veggies or fruits I have lying around. I often add some raw nuts, cooked quinoa, or canned beans for extra calories and a protein boost. Tossed with a flavored vinegar or a simple dressing, it’s a delicious and filling meal and easy to throw together for a quick lunch or dinner.
Last year I concocted a lemon and berry combination that is still one of my favorites, especially with raspberries fresh from the garden. In these months before the berries have ripened, I sometimes splurge on a tray of blackberries from Costco to eat throughout the week. Delicious on yogurt or ice cream, in a smoothie, or just by the handful, it’s never a challenge to get through them on my own.
Since I love the berry and spinach combination, I decided to combine some blackberries with my newest favorite Olivelle discovery: Sriracha White Balsamic Vinegar. Still fairly sweet but with the slight kick of Sriracha flavoring, this is a more savory experience. It’s superb as a dressing all on its own, excellent as a condiment for wraps, and delightful mixed in with scrambled eggs. I’m already halfway through my rather hefty bottle, and I know I’ll be back promptly when I need a refill.
I started with my standard spinach based, and topped with fresh blackberries and sliced almonds. As I usually have goat cheese in the fridge as well (how do people live without Costco?), I added that for some creaminess and a little tang. The sweet and spicy Sriracha vinegar pulls everything together with a little kick, but not so much that it overwhelms all the other delicious flavors. This salad is great as a light meal with a side of tasty sourdough bread, but works just as well alongside a chicken or fish entrée.
For those of you that are perhaps not keen on buying specialty vinegar, I’ve included a recipe for a copycat version. It’s not a perfect match but it’s still delicious, and a bit more accessible than mail-order vinegar.
Sriracha Summer Salad
Servings: 1 entrée, or 2 sides
2 cups baby spinach, washed and dried
1 Tbsp Sriracha white balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup blackberries, washed and dried (and maybe halved, if you want)
2 Tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
1 Tbsp sliced almonds
- In a medium bowl, gently stir together spinach and Sriracha vinegar until well coated. Transfer spinach to serving dish(es).
- Arrange berries, goat cheese, and almonds on top, optionally drizzling with extra vinegar.
- Enjoy immediately as a spicy-sweet entrée for one, or as side dishes for two.
Copycat Sriracha Vinegar
Makes about 1/3 cup
1/2 cup high quality white balsamic vinegar
1 tsp Sriracha, to taste
- In a small saucepan, gently heat vinegar and Sriracha to a simmer, and let simmer until liquid is reduced to about 1/3 cup.
- Whisk vigorously to mix in Sriracha (there may still be speckles.) Add more Sriracha to taste, if desired.
- Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator, shaking or whisking before each use if spices have settled.