I call this simple salad Company Salad because it’s the one I serve whenever I have company coming over for dinner. At various other times I’ve called this dish Garden Party Salad, Sunday Dinner Salad, and Mother-in-Law Salad. Whatever the name, the theme is the same: This is a salad to impress.
The variations on this salad are as numerous as its names. The ingredients are basic: greens, berries, cheese, nuts, and vinegar, plus maybe a little olive oil and honey if you so desire. The greens selection can range from sweet butterhead lettuce to dark field greens to herb salad blends to fresh spinach to spicy arugula to curly kale. Nut selection might vary among chopped walnuts, silvered almonds, toasted pine nuts, or candied pecans. The choice of cheese can include any kind of soft cheese, such as goat, feta, or Gorgonzola.
And then there is the matter of berries. I like to let my vinegar selection guide my choice of berry. Strawberry Basil Balsamic cries for fresh, sweet strawberries, whereas Blueberry Lemon Thyme Balsamic calls for juicy blueberries and Raspberry Lemon Balsamic pairs well with ripe red raspberries.
I like to eat in season when possible, so, for example, you’ll often find me in the early spring eating spinach with strawberries, goat cheese, and Strawberry Basil Balsamic. The choice of each ingredient, however, is ultimately up to you, and thus this salad not only guarantees to please a crowd but also leaves room for self-expression.
When it comes to the dressing, you can simply drizzle on the balsamic and call it a day, or you can take a couple extra minutes to whisk in some olive oil and honey–it’s really up to you. Some people prefer the added sweetness of the honey; some people believe the olive oil helps the dressing toss more evenly into the salad.
I often add both, and so that’s the version you’ll see represented in the recipe below. I opt for Lemon Basil and Garlic Olive Oil when using Blueberry Lemon Thyme or Raspberry Lemongrass Balsamic. Genovese Basil and Roma Tomato Olive Oil is my go-to when working with Strawberry Basil Balsamic. I have friends who pair everything with Roasted Garlic or even just plain olive oil. Again, the choice is yours!
Whatever you choose, just remember that fresher ingredients make for the best ingredients, and salads are served best with a smile (or some warm French bread)!
Recipe for Pickle Creek’s Company Salad
10 oz or 1 large bunch fresh, clean greens
1 c. fresh berries
1/4 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. crumbled soft cheese
1/2 c. Pickle Creek Herb-Infused Olive Oil (optional)
1 Tbsp. honey (optional)
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
Whisk together vinegar and honey (if using) in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil (if using), whisking constantly. Season with salt and pepper. Combine greens, berries, cheese, and nuts in a large bowl and toss gently. Add dressing just before eating. Enjoy!
What’s your favorite variation on this salad? I’d love to hear your ideas!