This past Sunday was my oldest and dearest friend’s wedding, and I was lucky enough to be her maid of honor. After such a fun weekend celebrating with all of her friends and family, it was a bit difficult to come back to the real world today. I’m sure everyone knows what I mean – when you wake up on Monday morning (or in this case, Tuesday morning), wondering how on earth the weekend is over already. I should also mention that the wedding was in Wisconsin, land of the cheese curds. After eating a few too many curds on the drive back to Illinois, I’ve been craving a healthy meal to balance things out a bit. And since I was so worn out, I wanted to make a dinner that was simple yet comforting at the same time. This Spanish-inspired salad with manchego, dates and marcona almonds was the perfect solution.
When I’m creating a salad, I always try to include a variety of flavors and textures. With its salty manchego, sweet and chewy dates and crunchy almonds, this salad hits all the right notes. I topped it with a sherry-honey vinaigrette to add a bit more tangy flavor to the overall taste. The peppery arugula soaked in all of the flavors wonderfully.
If you haven’t had marcona almonds before, you are in for a treat. Hailing from Spain, marcona almonds are softer and plumper than the almonds you typically see in the states. They are widely available in grocery stores now – I purchased mine at Trader Joe’s. Paired with the Spanish manchego and dates (which I will always associate with Spain because of the ever-popular bacon-wrapped dates), this salad will make you realize that the Spaniards really know what they are doing when it comes to food.
I served this as a light dinner with some toasted country bread, but it could also be a starter or side. Enjoy!
- For the salad:
- About 5 cups arugula, washed and dried (about ⅔ of a standard-sized bag)
- ½ cup dates, pitted and chopped
- ⅓ cup marcona almonds
- ⅓ cup manchego pieces
- For the dressing:
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 teaspoons honey
- Pinch of pepper
- In a large bowl, assemble salad ingredients and toss gently.
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk dress ingredients together.
- Add dressing to salad and toss well. Serve immediately.
I used salted marcona almonds. If you use unsalted almonds, you might want to add a pinch of salt to the dressing.
I used medjool dates, but any dried date will be delicious.