In my single days I used to travel up to Providence and Boston to see them. Alex would make incredible food with interesting flavors- grilled eggplant and basil sandwiches, cornmeal chocolate chip banana pancakes, yadda yadda- and we'd all stay up way too late having deep discussions about life and relationships. They'd give the guys I dated nicknames like Appleflinger and Awfulthingy. (Long story.)
This is where I'd typically create some natural segue into this salad. I'd really like to write something more clever than "This is a salad Alex made one day while I was at their apartment in Rhode Island." Sadly, it's late and I'm loopy, and in this state "clever" sometimes comes out as "inappropriate." But the good news is the salad does a bang up job speaking for itself (without getting frisky,) so just have a forkful. (By the way, that was my first time writing the word "segue", and, at first, I wrote "segway." Segwaying into the salad would be an entirely different feat. Palm to forehead.)
Anyway, I asked Alex permission to call it the Eats and Beats Signature Salad, because I'm a thief of other people's intellectual property. (Not really.) But, in the end, I felt like I should call it what I always have.
in all its forms
I have never once served this salad and not had everyone comment on how good it is. Even my foodie friends go nuts for it. This salad is meant to be light on the greens and heavy on the good stuff. Feel free to adjust the quantities to your liking.
4 handfuls of spinach leaves (not baby spinach!), stems removed
4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cubed
1 medium granny smith apple, chopped
1 large cucumber, skinned, quartered lengthwise, and chopped
2 handfuls quality dried cranberries
5 large hard-boiled eggs, chopped
4 strips of freshly-cooked bacon, chopped (not pictured; optional, but recommend
when serving with the Rainy April Menu)
3 ounces goat cheese (not pictured; optional)
2 small avocados, chopped (I always add them, but I'd leave them out for
the Rainy April Menu)
Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing made in advance using their mix
packet. (1/2 the recipe will be plenty)
Toss and serve with dressing on the side.
My husband likes this salad with a creamy poppy seed dressing, but I prefer the ranch. The ranch dressing should be homemade just because it really is remarkably better. All it is is a ranch packet mixed with some mayo and milk. So easy. Just make sure it's freshly whisked before serving. I always make this salad with avocados, but it's the only ingredient that doesn't seem to jive with the vibe of the Rainy April Menu, so I'd leave them out just in this instance. I don't normally add bacon and goat cheese just because I make the salad so often and leaving them out helps cut down the cost and the calories, but I think they're perfect ingredients for this particular menu.