A few weeks ago, when the blackberry bush in my backyard was producing like crazy, I took requests for blackberry recipes. So far, out of that came the Blackberry Cheesecake Popsicles I made a video for *YUM*. And now, I made this Summery Salad drizzled with Blackberry Vinaigrette, topped with almond ricotta, for you! Though, I had to purchase some blackberries for this recipe, as today I ate the lone berry left after the bush’s solid run. And because I’m a dork, I thanked the plant for giving me roughly a pound of blackberries and let it be.
As for this recipe. I wanted it to have bright colors, contrasting flavors and textures, and to really epitomize Summer. And, I think that’s exactly how it turned out! Which, reminds me of a conversation that I had the other day. My mom was at work and forgot her lunch, so I put something together for her and ran it over. When I showed up, I handed the bag over and met her boss, who had a very colorful dress on. I complimented her on it, and she told us that her mother had made it for her, so I cracked a joke saying, “mom, where’s my dress?” (because I’m a smart ass)
She cocked her head at me and said, “You’d where that?” Alluding to the fact that it was supremely colorful (and maybe had an interesting pattern). I replied with, “well, if it was black or gray” *insert half-smile*. “Of course,” she says with half of an eye roll. My mom isn’t the only one who likes to point out that I have a mostly monotone wardrobe, and I’m totally in love with it, so it doesn’t bother me. But, it did make me think about how much I truly love color. Like, REALLY LOVE COLOR. Yet, I don’t want it on me, for the most part. Maybe I’m more sensitive to color in bigger doses?
But, food.. food is where colors should be. Colors that draw you in, and excite your eyeballs. Colors that make it hard to resist the camera eating first. And that’s what I love so much about Spring and Summer. Not the weather, or the crowded beaches, but the amazingly beautiful produce that grows from the earth and ends up on our plates. Don’t get me wrong, I love Fall and Winter so, so much. But, orange + beige + brown + drab green is not tremendously eye-catching. Of course, no matter the season, it’s easier to eat a colorful meal when you’re vegan.
This salad is so appealing, with its vibrant oranges from the slices of nectarine, against the cool greens of the salad. The white, almond ricotta pops in contrast to the dark violet hue of the blackberry vinaigrette, and deep, black-purple of the blackberries. As for the pepitas, they nearly blend in with the greens, but you’re reminded that they’re present with every crunch, as you take a bite. As my dad said (me paraphrasing), “This salad reminds me of the fancy dinner salads I would get on business trips.”
But, look at us! We don’t have to go anywhere special to enjoy this beautiful salad. You can make it at home, mostly with ingredients that are staples in your pantry. Maybe with the exception of the fresh fruit; such is life. So, prepare this Summery Salad with blackberry vinaigrette as the perfect starter to a wonderful summer dinner. <3
Summery Salad with Blackberry Vinaigrette
- 1 cup raw almonds
- boiling water
- 5-6 tablespoons water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon white or chickpea miso paste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme minced
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- 8 cups baby arugula and/or mixed greens
- 1 cup sliced nectarines
- 1 cup blackberries
- 1/4 cup roasted, salted pepitas
- For the Ricotta: Place almonds in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Soak for 30 minutes, and drain. Peel the almonds by squeezing them out of their skins. If you hold the rounder end and pinch, it should shoot out of the other end.
- Place almonds 6 T. water, lemon juice, miso, garlic, and salt in a small food processor and pulse until mostly smooth. Refrigerate until ready to plate, salads.
- For the Blackberry Vinaigrette: While almonds are soaking, place blackberries and balsamic in a small sauce pan and simmer over medium heat for 8-10 minutes. Mashing the blackberries down while cooking.
- Strain mixture and place liquid in a blender, with olive oil, lemon juice, agave, thyme, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Blend until smooth and oil has emulsified. Chill in refrigerator until ready to plate.
- Assembly: Divide greens between four bowls, top with nectarines, blackberries, and pepitas. Spoon dollops of ricotta over the salads, you may have some leftover. Drizzle with dressing and serve! Great when paired with a white or sparkling wine.