Strawberry Spinach Salad with Candied Almonds

Strawberry Feta Candied Almond Salad

This weekend I helped throw a bridal shower for my sister, which meant a culmination of all of her favorite foods: brown butter banana bread, chocolate chunk banana muffins, dirt cake, mini cupcakes, cheese-laden-yet-fluffy egg bakes…and then there was this salad.

I know what you’re thinking: what’s a salad doing among that lineup? If there’s any “salad” at all, shouldn’t it be stuffed with chicken and swirled with mayonnaise?

Wrong. We had strict instructions from my sister: “No tupperware, no chicken salad.” So in lieu of chicken salad I made a salad that my sister introduced to me years ago. It was our “fancy salad” that we would make at family gatherings, holidays, etc.

While it may not be the creamy mess you’d expect to see at a bridal shower, be not deterred by the word “salad” in this recipe’s title, because it has its indulgences. There is no fat-free feta used here, no store-bought “light” balsamic vinaigrette, and the candied almonds are more candy than almonds.

But, you know, it has spinach and fruit and stuff…so yeah. Legit.

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Energy Boosting Sesame Orzo

energy-boosting sesame orzo

I kind of failed at food last week. I took a “cooking vacation,” if you will. I went out to eat, grabbed takeout, or made avocado sandwiches literally every night. With everything going on this summer, I just hit a wall where I felt overwhelmed and like I had no time. When this happens, it’s not only fast meals that I crave, but carbs. I just want all the carbs.

When I finally found myself with some time on Sunday, I decided I better step foot in the kitchen and see if I could get back in the groove and make something substantial. While I had no intention of ending my carb bender, I thought adding greens and protein to the mix might be helpful for my dwindling energy level.

Enter beluga lentils. A teeny tiny protein powerhouse that pairs well with just about anything. I figured lentils, broccoli rabe, and a miso-sesame sauce juuuust might bring my energy back up and get my cooking shoes back on.

To be clear, I would be piling all these ingredients on top of pasta, of course…we’re taking baby steps here, people.
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