1/2 can mandarin oranges, drained
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) Craisins
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds (optional)
1/2 bag baby spinach leaves, refreshed in water, drained well, and spin dry*
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar or vinegar of your choice**
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
2 tablespoons whole, lightly-salted cashew nuts
Coarse or sea salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
** Choose spinach leaves that are crisp and have dark green with a nice fresh fragrance. Avoid those that are limp, damaged, or spotted. The easiest way to wash spinach is to put it into a sink or large container of cold water. Remove stems by twisting or cutting spinach leaves off just above stem line and immerse in water. Swish leaves around, then let them stand for a few minutes while dirt sinks to the bottom. Thoroughly dry by using a salad spinner (my favorite way) or by blotting with paper towels. Wrap in dry paper towels and seal in a plastic bag for storage.
** To purchase Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar, check out What's Cooking America's Amazon Store.
In a salad bowl, place the mandarin oranges, Craisins, and pomegranate seeds. Top with the prepared spinach leaves. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.
Into a container with a tight-fitting lid, add the olive oil, vinegar, Dijon mustard, cashews, salt, and pepper. Shake until oil is emulsified; set aside.
When ready to serve, gently toss the prepared spinach salad with a little of the prepared dressing. NOTE: You probably will need to shake the dressing again before tossing.
Any remaining dressing will keep well in the refrigerator. Store, covered, in the refrigerator. Dressing will keep approximately 7 to 10 days.
Serve at room temperature.
DO NOT OVERDRESS YOUR SALADS - Too much salad dressing will weight down the salad ingredients and mask their flavors. The dressing's role is to highlight not to overpower the salad ingredients. A general rule is 1/4 cup of dressing for 6 cups of greens. As soon as your spinach salad is mixed, taste a leaf to see if there is sufficient dressing. If not, drizzle some more over the salad, a tablespoon at a time; toss and taste again.
Makes 2 servings.