April 20, 2010

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds and Polenta "Croutons"{Powernap}


What’s Going on Today: Packing, errands, general chaos. Pick up birthday present for 3 year old’s birthday party this afternoon!
Naptime Goals: No time for Naptime Chef-ing today – instead I’ll use up some yummy leftovers in a salad tonight.
Tonight’s Menu: Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds and Polenta Croutons
Parenting Lesson of the Day: When in doubt, bribe.

We are zeroing in on moving day and I am excited, but beyond stressed. It is craziness trying to pack a household, explain to a toddler what is happening and get everything set up at our new destination. We have had all the phone lines turned on and been given a new number by the phone company. But I still haven’t bought phones. Based on this state of preparedness I’d say we’ll be comfortably settled in our new spot by December.

With all of the packing going on here today I haven’t had time to Naptime Chef. My kitchen isn’t being totally boxed up until next week – I’ll be posting new food later this week and next week – but today I spent naptime wrapping picture frames instead of cooking. (Which, as you all know, I would have preferred to have been doing since I consider whisking much more fun then wrapping breakables.) So, like all resourceful home cooks in these situations, I turned to my stash of leftovers to see what could be combined with a few pantry items to make a yummy, nourishing dinner.

Luckily, upon opening the fridge I discovered some of my leftover polenta bars and lots of fresh spinach. With these two items a hearty dinner salad seemed like the perfect idea: spinach salad topped with polenta croutons (my polenta bars cut into small squares), crumbled goat cheese and toasted sliced almonds from the pantry. If I had time I would also cook up a chicken breast for added protein, but, in this case, the polenta croutons will suffice.

For a thrown together salad, I have to say, this one is pretty incredible. When topped with a light lemon vinaigrette it has a delicious tang to complement the goat cheese along with the oniony polenta croutons and crunchy almonds. After a long hot afternoon of packing this cool salad really hit the spot, it was both hearty and satisfying. While I ate it I was a little sad that I hadn’t gotten to cooking during naptime, a source of great relaxation for me, but was pleased with our dinner. I think all parent’s will agree, sometimes we all have these days where there is too much to do and not enough time. But, at least with a little ingenuity we can always cap it off with a good dinner, no matter the circumstances.

Recipe

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Almonds and Polenta Croutons

Ingredients

large bunch of spinach or mixed greens, washed and trimmed
1 c. polenta “croutons” (set polenta cut into 1″ cubes or smaller)
½ c. sliced almonds
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Dressing:
2 T. olive oil
Juice of one lemon
Pinch of Kosher salt
Pinch of freshly cracked brown pepper

Instructions

1. Combine the spinach, polenta, almonds and goat cheese in a large bowl.
2. Make the dressing by whisking together the olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Toss with the salad and serve immediately.

Naptime Notes

Naptime Recipe Serving ideas

Cold hearty salads are a great meal in the warmer months on days when you are too busy to Naptime Chef or it is too hot to cook. I find the basic formula for a great salad is a crumbled cheese, dark or mixed lettuce, nuts for crunch and a tangy bite like a dried fruit or flavored crouton. I prefer lighter viniagrettes for my salad, anything too heavy overshadows the flavors in the salad.

Naptime Stopwatch

Making this salad takes about 12 minutes, if the polenta is already leftover or you buy precooked. It will take longer if you make the polenta from scratch.

Naptime Reviews

My daughter is not big on salad yet, but she loved her second helping of polenta.

  • Levinson Axelrod

    Creative way to use polenta. Thanks for offering the idea.

  • Levinson Axelrod

    Creative way to use polenta. Thanks for offering the idea.