A couple of months ago, we spent a long weekend in Missoula, Montana where I picked up 8 new spice mixes from a great little restaurant/shop called The Silk Road. I still have no idea what to do with most of them, and it’s been really fun experimenting a bit. I started with the Garam Masala which was one of the only ones I had any experience with, and it turns out that I love Garam Masala with all things sweet, especially fruit! I know as soon as pumpkin season hits, I’ll be experimenting with that combination as well.
I’ve been making candied nuts/seeds to add to my salads for years, but it’s never before occurred to me to add a little spice into the mix. The Garam Masala leaves a hint of cinnamon that’s wonderful when paired with juicy sweet raspberries and creamy avocado. I topped it all off with a white balsamic vinaigrette, because white balsamic vinegar is so underrated, and it pairs really well with subtle flavors. I almost never use white balsamic, instead always reaching for the traditional balsamic, but this salad has me really rethinking my strategy.
The catalyst that started my white balsamic revival was a birthday present from my sister of a lovely bottle of Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic Vinegar that she carefully paired with a Tarragon Olive Oil. This combination has my eyes rolling up in the back of my head every time I taste it, and all of a sudden I’m eating salad every single day! You can have this particular combination (which is fabulous on this salad) for yourself if you’d like, she purchased them from a local oil and vinegar store called Genesis Kitchen, and they have a truly tasty selection. I kept the vinaigrette simple for this recipe, but if you do have some specialty vinegars around they really elevate a simple salad to the next level.
The vinaigrette for this recipe follows the same design as my 2 Ingredient Balsamic Vinaigrette. Ever since I discovered I could shake my vinaigrette together in seconds in a glass jar, it’s become my favorite salad dressing for it’s convenience and great flavor.
Another great thing to do with white balsamic vinegar, is make a balsamic reduction out of it like you would with normal balsamic vinegar. It has the same intense kind of flavor and syrupy texture as a the regular version, but it’s better suited for subtle flavors where it won’t overwhelm. You can make it by pouring an entire bottle (12 ounces) into a saucepan and simmering it until it’s syrupy (about 20 minutes). Then I just pour it into a squeeze bottle and store it in the fridge. It’s fun to use it on a Caprese Salad because you can fully appreciate the fresh mozzarella and garden fresh tomatoes!
- 8 ounces of washed baby spinach, 8 cups
- 8 ounces raspberries, 3 cups, washed and drained
- 1 large ripe avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
- 2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt to taste
- optional touch of maple syrup if your vinegar is really sour
- ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
- 1 Teaspoon garam masala
- 1 Tablespoon maple syrup
- sea salt to taste, I used ¼ Teaspoon
- Place the baby spinach, raspberries, and avocado in a large serving bowl.
- Place the ingredients for the white balsamic into a glass jar, secure the lid, and shake the dressing together until it's emulsified. Season to taste with sea salt and a touch of maple syrup if needed. If the dressing separates before you're ready to use it, simply shake it together again.
- Toast the pumpkin seeds in a 9" cast iron pan over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, or until the pumpkins seeds smell fragrantly toasted, and they start to make small popping sounds.
- Add the garam masala, maple syrup, and sea salt to the pan. Stir vigorously to combine, and turn the heat off after the liquid is absorbed by the pumpkin seeds.
- From here you can either let the pumpkin seeds cool in the pan, (if they stick to the pan use a metal spatula and they pop right out) or you can use them right away which adds a nice warm element to the salad.
- Toss the salad with the pumpkin seeds and vinaigrette.
- Serve immediately.
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