Bibb Lettuce-Blueberry Salad with Blueberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette
One of my favorite meals on a hot summer day is a cool, fruity salad. This entrée composition tantalizes the taste buds with crisp veggies, sweet blueberries, savory chicken or tofu, and a touch of salty cheese.
The accompanying recipe for blueberry poppy seed vinaigrette delightfully compliments the salad ingredients and will be one you’ll want to keep on hand for other salads, as well.
Recipe Additions and Substitutions:
- Make this salad even more summery by adding diced watermelon, sliced peaches or a berry combo.
- If bibb lettuce is not available, butter, romaine, Boston or spring greens are wonderful substitutes.
- If blueberry balsamic is not available, use 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar + 1 1/2 tablespoons traditional aged balsamic vinegar. The flavor profile will be slightly different but delicious nonetheless. A raspberry vinaigrette is also a wonderful option.
- For dairy-free, use a vegan feta or parmesan cheese substitute.
- In place of feta or aged goat cheese, aged Parmesan can be used.
Makes: 4 entrée servings
2 heads bibb lettuce, washed, patted or spun dry, cut into bite-sized pieces
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, washed, thinly sliced
1 avocado, sliced
1 cup fresh blueberries, washed, dried
3 – 4 grilled, sliced chicken breasts or 12 – 14 ounces sliced, pan-fried tofu (firm or extra-firm, non-silken)
1/2 cup chopped, toasted pecans, walnuts or sliced almonds
1/2 cup feta or aged goat cheese, crumbled
Blueberry Poppy Seed Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or Raspberry Vinaigrette
- Place the lettuce into a large mixing bowl. Drizzle lightly with the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat. Divide the lettuce among four dinner plates.
- Arrange the red onions, cucumber, avocado, blueberries, and chicken or tofu on top of the lettuce on each plate. Drizzle a small amount of the vinaigrette over the top of these ingredients, careful not to over-dress the salads.
- Garnish each salad with the nuts and cheese. Serve immediately.
BLUEBERRY POPPY SEED VINAIGRETTE
Bright and fruity with just a hint of savory, this dressing is a fun addition to green salads and fresh fruit bowls. Using the natural sweetness of the fruit and just a touch of honey (or cane sugar) to balance the flavors, it is a much lower added sugar option compared to similar fruit vinaigrettes. And it can be prepared any time of year using fresh or frozen blueberries. If possible, use a light, fruity olive oil to fully compliment the berries.
A fruity, tangy blueberry balsamic vinegar is used in this recipe which is fairly easy to find at an oil and vinegar shop. You can use it for more than just this salad dressing – try it drizzled over ice cream, yogurt, or a bowl of fresh fruit, add a splash to a smoothie or sparkling water. So delicious! Check a local retailer or try one of these for online orders:
- Navidi’s (Camas, WA)
- Pour Olive (Charlotte, NC)
- The Olive Grove (Mendota Heights, MN)
- The Culinarium (Jacksonville, OR)
- Vom Fass (based in Germany; franchises across USA)
Makes: approximately 1 cup of vinaigrette
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained if frozen
3 tablespoons blueberry balsamic vinegar (good quality, sweet, fruity flavor)
1 teaspoon honey (or cane sugar)
1/4 teaspoon ground dry mustard
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 tablespoon poppy seeds
- Using a blender, combine the oil, blueberries, vinegar, honey (or sugar), mustard and salt. Process until very smooth and fully emulsified.
- Stir in the poppy seeds to distribute fully throughout the vinaigrette.
- Serve immediately or store the vinaigrette in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks. Once refrigerated, bring the vinaigrette to room temperature and shake well before serving.
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