Husbands are really hard to shop for. Does everyone agree? They either want really expensive stuff that we’re not equipped to give, like cars or big power tools, or they don’t want anything. We happened to be spending my husband’s birthday in the Canadian Rockies, with our kids, on our annual summer vacation this past August. Picture this: road trip, seven people, luggage, snacks and sleeping bags all crammed in a suburban, on our way to pick up a rented RV in Calgary…no room for an extra bag of trail mix, let alone birthday presents. I figured I’d find something once we arrived at our destination.
We ducked into a touristy trinket shop in the charming town of Waterton Lakes, and Sarah spied a decadent-looking bottle of maple-balsamic salad dressing. Drew, the b-day boy, loves balsamic anything, so an idea started forming of the perfect surprise birthday meal. We snagged a bottle and left the store, and the rest is history.
We made a delicious main-course salad, which he loved, using pretty much the entire $8.00 bottle of dressing. I knew I could recreate it at home, and so I did just that. And wow, did it start a firestorm. Every person who tries this salad goes wild for it. It’s full of clean, fresh ingredients that meld perfectly together.
And the b-day present search? Well, that’s a story for another day.
- 1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
- 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled
- 1 deli-roasted chicken
- 1 cup kale
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 1/4 cup red onion
- 1/2 cup bleu cheese
- 1-2 fresh pears
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1-2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 4 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Remove chicken from bones and chop into bite-size pieces.
- Soak cherries in water for 5-10 minutes.
- Dice red onion into very small pieces.
- Put walnuts and syrup in pan on the stove over medium-low heat. Toast nuts while stirring until they are fragrant and beginning to brown. Remove from heat and cool.
- Drain cherries.
- Add all dressing ingredients in blender and combine until smooth.
- Combine all salad ingredients in large bowl, adding pear slices at the last minute.
- Add dressing to taste.
- Toss to mix thoroughly, adding more dressing as needed.
*We use Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice for our grains in this salad. It cooks in 90 seconds and is organic and delicious. You can substitute any variety of your favorite grains to equal 2 cups.
*If you're serving fewer people, add kale and pears only to the portion you need. The rest of the ingredients keep well for a day or two, so you can eat leftovers for lunch the next day! Simply add those two ingredients right before you're eating.
*Bacon takes this salad to a whole new level...just a thought!
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