Ok, so that title might be a bit much, but…
You know I love to use a good tongue twister as a title. Plus, this salad really is full of berries and totally dreamy. Actually, it’s kind of a hippie salad, but I am in love with it. It’s definitely a salad for the free-spirited or super health conscious, or even for someone who just loves fresh berries and mangos!
I mean, it’s practically vegan…well minus the goat cheese, but you know I could not resist adding a little cheese!
Fun fact: I am not sure I mentioned this before or not, but back in my teen days (so like two years ago) I was set on going to school and majoring in nutrition. I was SO into learning about food and what it does for our bodies. I loved the idea of using food as healthy fuel to keep us going strong. It totally excited me and still does.
Clearly, I am not a complete health freak and I know how to satisfy my sweet tooth (hello chocolate 1, 2 and 3), but in general I really do eat pretty healthy on a daily basis. Even as a kid, fruits and vegetables were always my favorite foods. Yes, I was that freaky, healthy eating kid, while my brothers chowed down frozen chicken nuggets and Stouffer’s mac and cheese…
Honestly, I sometimes wonder if my parents got sent home with the wrong child at the hospital (hello switched at birth moment), but then I look at my mom and I realized I have her thin frame and pointy chin. Then I look at my dad and realize I have got his nose (UGH), dark brown hair and hazel eyes. It’s pretty obvious I am theirs, so really, I am just the misplaced middle child (like smack dab in the middle, three brothers ahead of me, two brothers below me and one little sister) of the family.
Oh well, I’ll happily take it…but umm really, eldest brother Creighton should try learning a thing or two (or three) from his little sis about eating healthy…
So why the weird chat about what I thought I was gonna do before food blogging and photography took over my life??
Ahh…really it was just because I am currently texting with my brother’s girlfriend (hi Caitlin!) who is planning on studying nutrition at school this fall. Basically, I am semi jealous of all the stuff she is going to learn and super excited to start picking her brain about what she is learning in her classes. Maybe she’ll even get Kai to at least try a piece of fruit. I mean, it’s kind of a long shot since he has gone nineteen years without even a strawberry or a slice of watermelon, BUT, she’d be the girl to get him to do it!
So challenge on??
Anywhooo, sorry I didn’t mean to ramble so much today, apparently my mind was wandering. It’s got to be this hippie inspired bowl. Or ok, fine. It’s really just my crazy, never able to rest brain.
BUT, this very berry dream salad, oh how you’ll love this salad. For one, can we just talk about how incredibly pretty it is?? Normally I hate the way I make food look, but this salad is hard to hate. It has way too many pretty fruits studded throughout and a fresh and vibrant mango vinaigrette that is KILLER.
Plus, edible flowers…my new obsession. Almost too pretty to eat, but then not really, cause once I am hungry, prettiness doesn’t really matter anymore.
The base of the salad is fairly simple and quick to prepare. You just add berries, greens, grains, sprouts, nuts and chia seeds to a bowl and toss. For the grains, you can really use anything you want. I went with barley, but quinoa, wild rice, whole grain rice, couscous and buckwheat will all work great. Really, just use whatever is your favorite or whatever you happen to have leftover in the fridge, which for me is typically either rice or quinoa .
I also want to make a note that while I only used berries and mangos in this salad, I have since made it a couple of times over now and added cherries. Please, please, please add cherries if you like them, SO GOOD.
So glad that both berry and cherry season are here!!
Ok and the vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is what completes this salad. It’s sweet, spicy and has just a nice hint of peanut and mango flavor. Oh, and fresh basil. YUM!.
It’s probably one of my favorite ways to complete a salad, and to be honest, I could totally just sit and slurp on the vinaigrette like soup. Yes, it is that good!!
The best part is, assuming you have some already cooked grains on hand, this salad is completely no cook and on the table in less than twenty-five minutes.
Very Berry Dream Salad with Chili Mango and Peanut Vinaigrette.
Chili Mango and Peanut Vinaigrette
- 1 ripe medium mango peeled + diced
- 1 inch knob fresh ginger peeled + diced
- 1 fresno chili pepper seeded + diced
- 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 tablespoons sweet thai chili sauce
- 1/2 cup canned coconut milk lite or regular both work
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chopped
- salt and pepper to taste
- 4 cups baby spinach
- 4 cups mixed berries (I used raspberries blueberries and blackberries)
- 2 cups cooked grains * I used Bob's Red Mill barley and quinoa
- 2 cups fresh sprouts
- 1/2 cup toasted peanut chopped
- 1/4 cup toasted pinenuts
- 1/2 mango peeled + diced
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
- 1 avocado pitted, peeled + sliced
- 4 ounces goat cheese or feta cheese crumbled (omit if vegan)
- 1/2 cup edible flowers optional
!Chili Mango and Peanut Vinaigrette
In a blender or high powered food processor, combine the mango, ginger, fresno chili pepper, peanut butter, sweet thai chili sauce, coconut milk, olive oil and rice vinegar. Blend until smooth and creamy. If the vinaigrette seems a bit thick, thin with water. Stir in the chopped basil and season with salt + pepper. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week in a glass jar.
In a large salad bowl, combine the spinach, berries, grains, sprouts, peanuts, pine nuts, mango and chia seeds. Toss well. Top with avocado slices, goat or feta cheese (If using) and edible flowers. Drizzle generously with the mango vinaigrette. Serve with extra vinaigrette.
Smile. It’s salad time.