Berries & greens salad with light balsamic vinaigrette

This "recipe" is at once too simple to share and too wonderful not to. Also, stating the obvious it's not really a recipe as such, but a combination you can intuit, copy, adapt and transform just by looking at a picture or a forkful. And on a related but random note, I know I need to curb the tendency to use quotation marks as a catchall excuse for describing things with words they may not quote deserve. I think of it as healthy humility, but I can see how it could be seen as a fallback for not wanting to take responsibility for word choice and therefore shield against criticism. Then again, most people wouldn't even think about it, so back to the point of this post...

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Since he was a wee dumpling just exploring solid foods, we've been so conscious and grateful for how fortunate we are that Chef F has natural veggisaurus tendencies. He crunches on carrots, coos over cauliflower, buries his face in tomatoes. Even leafy greens go down with regularity. Only, they do take a little creative coaxing. The texture isn't exciting, the sometimes straggly stems are a nuisance and must be cut off, and really, when you're four they're just not as fun beyond decorative design. 

I don't love the concept of "sneaking" in veggies and greens except when Chef F and I are both openly on board, like kitchen scientists, but sometimes that's just how it has to be. There are times reminders of how strong and wise and fierce we can become on kale just don't do it. And there is a limit to how long or how often we can get away with playing very hungry caterpillars with our nice green leaves. So we have a few tricks, sort of. Smoothies are the easiest (chocolate has been the favorite since nine months: frozen banana slices, a few ice cubes, a big handful of spinach/greens, solidly heaping spoonful of cacao powder, plant-based milk, and--secret special ingredient--some pitted frozen or fresh cherries); banana mint ice cream (frozen banana slices blended with a good handful of greens and mint) is another winner. But my favorite for now is this salad. Because it's just greens, and while I personally could drink chocolate or mint smoothies every single day and basically do, I do want my child to love eating greens as they are, too.

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This easy combo was made special simply because we bought it at a coffee shop--a special coffee shop, being in the mountains, in Leadville, to support Daddy's mountain bike race recently. Chef F and I had a date day, and the $4 and change that we spent on the shared half salad may have exceeded the thrill of the much more expensive train tickets. (We were pretty hot and hungry.) A few bites in, I knew I'd be recreating this special salad a lot. Chopping the walnuts to the point of being crumbly is a particularly worthwhile enhancement. As "we" were eating, Chef F declared, "Actually Mommy, I can just finish this myself!"

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So in short, it turns out that sometimes the best way to get our sweet, smart, increasingly independent kid to eat his greens is as simple as giving him a plate of greens. Topped with berries or whatever fun stuff he wants to throw on there. With dressing--just a little, and inclusive of some honey or maple syrup (just a little). This thought thrills me to no end. For free, t0o, depending on how you look at it. 


Berries & greens salad with light balsamic vinaigrette

  • Baby spinach, kale, or mixed greens
  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Walnuts, coarsely chopped (I like to chop in a food processor until becoming a little floury)

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon honey (optional)
  1. Prepare the dressing: whisk all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Sprinkle berries and walnuts over greens and drizzle with dressing. That's it! Enjoy. :)