Thursday, March 3

Enjoy Your Winter Salads Because Spring Salads May Be Late This Year.

Spinach and Apple Salad with Cranberry-Maple Dressin

I received some bad news at the supermarket the other day. After going to three stores searching for fresh fennel bulb and not finding a single one, I asked a produce manager if he had any. He told me that fennel was going to be sparse this season because of frosts in California that damaged many crops.

Seeing my obvious disappointment, he said, "But we just got some artichokes in. Do you like those?"

"I love artichokes," I said, feeling suddenly uplifted.

He walked me over to the next aisle, and pointing to the large bin of artichokes, said proudly, "Here they are! Take your pick."

It didn't look promising. The outer leaves of the artichokes were covered in white spots. Many had angry brown streaks running up the leaves. I picked one up and gently squeezed it. It was spongy instead of firm.

"Aren't those white spots and brown streaks signs of frost damage?" I asked the manager.

"Um, yeah, but really, they're not that bad," he said sheepishly, then walked away.

So I didn't end up with either fennel or artichokes. Curious about these frosts, I decided to do a little research about California crops when I got home. Here's what I discovered: Heavy rains and freezing temperatures in January destroyed many avocado farms, which will lead to smaller crops and higher prices at the market. Unseasonably cold weather has  cost many farmers corn and lettuce crops. More concerning is a white mold that is attacking several California crops including lettuce, broccoli and cauliflower.

It seems this spring will be difficult on farmers and consumers alike. So in the meantime, enjoy your reasonably priced, tasty winter produce including greens, squash, root vegetables and apples.

Spinach and apples are in abundance right now, so try this colorful winter Spinach and Apple Salad with Cranberry-Maple Dressing. Flavor contrasts are the key to this salad's success: sweet spinach and tart Granny Smith apples are doused with a rich dressing made from sweet maple syrup, mouth-puckering cranberries and tangy apple cider vinegar.

It may not sing spring, but it will sure brighten any dreary winter's day.

Spinach and Apple Salad with Warm Cranberry-Maple Dressing
Makes 4 main or 8 side servings
Printable recipe.

12 cups fresh spinach (about 16 ounces)
1 large Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced with skins on and doused with lemon juice
1/4 cup lightly toasted pecans or walnuts, coarsely chopped (optional)

1 cup fresh or unthawed frozen cranberries with 6 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large bowl, toss spinach and apples.

2. In a small pot over medium-high, add cranberries and water. Cook until they begin to pop. Let cool. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, maple, salt and pepper. Pour into a small food processor with cranberries in water and puree. It's OK if it's a little lumpy.

3. Pour still-warm dressing over the salad, and toss well. Sprinkle with chopped nuts.

Here are more exciting winter salad recipes you might enjoy:
Roasted and Stuffed Pear Salad recipe from
Frisee and Cara Cara Orange Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Roasted Purple Cauliflower and Arugula Salad recipe from Food Blogga
Raw Kale and Citrus Salad with Pumpkin Seeds recipe from Dani Spies
Winter Chicken Salad with Blood Oranges and Apples recipe from Stacey Snacks
Shaved Celeriac, Radish and Pecorino Salad with White Truffle Vinaigrette recipe from The Nourish Network


My Carolina Kitchen said...

What sad news about spring. Grocery prices seem to be going through the roof lately. Early frosts destroyed crops here in south Florida late last year. Mother Nature has surely been cruel this winter.

I love your combination of apples and spinach. They are what you could call a marriage made in heaven.

bellini valli said...

Looks like our imported produce might be a little more expensive in the near future. Great recover with the winter salad. It still looks refreshing Susan.

Table Talk said...

That explains why artichokes are a whopping $5 each right now in our markets...yikes! As long as spring weather comes our way, I will happily eat winter salads (like this one)--superb!

debbie koenig said...

Such distressing news! And just when my son has finally started to expand his vegetable repertoire...

mek said...

No! Not the avocado farms! Sigh.

Still, this salad looks extremely tasty, and I think it is going on the menu for the weekend. Thanks!

Healthy Mamma said...

I love the vinegraitee recipe!
It is sad. I used to get out of the grocery store paying 1/3 what I do now since I buy mostly produce. Now that's not working out for me. I just paid nearly $4 for a small head of cauliflower! Yikes! I'll have to look into this white mold thing! scary.

Alysa said...

Good info to know about the spoiled produce. We participate in a co-op that gets a lot of produce from California (we are in AZ). Will be interesting to see what we get over the next few months.

Joanne said...

Well that's sad and depressing. I was so looking forward to spring produce coming soon. Oh well. it's a good thing I love root veggies and squash so much. This salad is totally my kind of deal. In fact, I am so going to have to make it imminently With some squash added in, of course.

Julia said...

At least you got to make your spinach and apple salad. Horrible when a crop fails. In Turkey, the tomato crop was attacked by a pest this season and prices rocketed. Hopefully, the same thing won't happen again.

Lucy@acookandherbooks said...

I can't bear the thought of life without avocados. This salad may get me through those days.

Jennifurla said...

Lovely salad...we have no Zucchini here either! Strange not having everything at my reach.

Rosemary said...

I will continue to enjoy spinach and apples. If the loss of avocados and artichokes isn't bad enough, I hear that corn prices will make a lot of things go up in price, too. With inflation coming as well, that's a double whammy!

meemsnyc said...

All the more reason to grow your own produce at home. Indoor spinach and mesculun works great in pots!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

sam-It's sad business. I hope it makes us all more cognizant of the toils of farmers.

val-Yes, I'm sure it will be, unfortunately for consumers.

table talk-That is pricey, but they're probably come done a little as the season goes on.

debbie-Oh, no! Don't let that stop him from eating his greens!

mek-That's great to hear! I hope you enjoy it.

healthymama-I know what you mean. The healthier you eat, the more expensive it is. Cauliflower isn't that pricey here though; it's about $2-2.50 a head.

alysa-Yes, it will be. Fortunately, CA has so many crops, I'm sure they'll substitute others.

joanne-I'm glad you love squash too. It'll come in handy. ;) And I love the idea of adding squash to this salad.

julia-It's terrible. We don't realize how important crops are to our well-being until we don't have them. Thanks for sharing your experience.

lucy-They'll still be here, but probably just not as plentiful.

jenifurla-We do get spoiled, don't we?

rosemary-Yes, along with fuel prices, produce prices keep rising.

meemsnyc-That is a great idea! Thanks.

Stacey Snacks said...

No fennel?
I bought it this week.
Susan, I will mail it to you from New Jersey!

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

What a beautiful salad! I love the combo of flavors you used.

I've noticed a huge increase in prices and less than stellar selection of produce lately..

The Food Hunter said...

The dressing on this salad sounds wonderful.

Allison said...

Thank you for the dressing idea; I substituted pomegranate molasses for the cranberries and maple syrup, to save a step and because it's what I had around. It also made a great dressing for the apples and spinach!

Rose&Thorn said...

We had many crops destroyed this year in South Africa too - especially bananas and avocados. The weather seems to be bad all around the world - perhaps it's time for people to start listening to Al Gore after all!
Great recipe. Thank you.

The Teacher Cooks said...

I hate to hear what the weather has done. Your salad does look delicious. I love the cranberry dressing.

marla said...

Thanks for warning us about upcoming disappointments - but tempting us with this delightful salad. Love the idea of that warm cranberry maple dressing.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

:-( Just the thought of waiting even longer for spring produce makes me all weepy. I wanted to make something with fennel last night and couldn't find any in the store. I suppose Whoel Paycheck gets their fennel from CA. I hope things don't get so desperate here on the East Coast, but we've had such a harsh winter I don't see good produce showing up any time soon.

Spinach salad I can do really easily. I really love your dressing!

Magic of Spice said...

Oh no, I had not heard this about the crops...Well this salad is gorgeous, so I won't fret :)