Let’s begin with a confession: I made this salad with pecans first, because pecans are what I had. That’s the nice thing about food – you can make it what you want, with what you have. So pecans are the pretty nuts you see in these photos. But the truth? Walnuts are yummier in this salad. You use what you have, and let me know what you decide!
Having said that… Salads are one of my favorite dishes to serve when friends come to visit. Somehow, they can be both pretty and unpretentious.
Salads are simple and un-fussy, but they can be artfully curated to feel like a gift.
This blackberry, brie and pear salad has walnuts, spinach, and a simple but luscious balsamic dressing, and I think it would work pretty much all year round, if you can get the fresh blackberries!
If you’re serving this salad for a bigger crowd, I recommend making it in advance, but leave off the brie and blackberries as well as, of course, the dressing, until right before serving. Leaving the dressing on the side in a pretty pitcher gives guests a chance to decide for themselves how to dress it.
Since spinach is a fairly “soft” green, it pairs well with the crunch of the pears, the nuts, and the tart “pop” of the blackberries. There’s such a great variety of textures and mix of sweet, sour, and salty, all in one bowl.
I think this would make a perfect side salad to a juicy roasted chicken, seasoned with lemon and garlic. It would also be delicious with a crusty steak and a baked sweet potato.
Want to make this a more hearty meal? It would be delicious with a crispy-edge, runny fried egg, or some sliced roast turkey or grilled chicken breast. Try swapping the brie for a blue cheese and toasting the walnuts with a bit of honey. The recipe is super flexible!
- 1 8-ounce bag fresh spinach, washed and dried
- 1/2 wheel brie
- 1 cup fresh blackberries
- 1/4 cup prosciutto, cooked until crisp and crumbled
- 1 whole pear, sliced
- 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- handful of fresh basil, roughly chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon herbs de provence (may substitute other dried herbs)
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
- salt and pepper to taste
- Layer salad ingredients onto a serving platter in the order listed.
- Combine dressing ingredients and whisk together.
- Drizzle dressing over salad just before serving.
- This salad is perfect as-is, but it can become a filling main dish with the addition of sauteed chicken or thinly sliced steak.
Don’t you want to make this now, and maybe invite a friend to share?
Do you have a favorite salad recipe that you love to enjoy just for you, or to share with friends?
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