Life of a Spanish Party…
“Salad cannot be the life of a party,” a friend said to me recently. As an inveterate salad lover, this gave me pause for thought. “Well, why can’t salad be the life of a party,” I said to myself, then to my friend. And I took it upon myself to prove that, indeed, salad CAN be the life of the party!
Salad traditionally has some tough competition for center stage: savory appetizers, mouthwatering meats and luscious desserts all vying for attention. For a salad to be a contender for stardom it would have to rock the stage. What could be better, I got to thinking, than a little pyromania? Aha! I knew I was on to something. Let me explain.
I have experience lighting things on fire… even if it was my childhood friend (sorry Pam). I didn’t understand that gasoline in a can plus playing with matches while burning trash equals somebody’s getting burned, and the other somebody getting grounded. Fortunately, Pam didn’t get hurt, because she knew to roll in the dirt and NOT because I tried to put the fire out on her leg by beating her with a plastic trash can. Oh the lessons we learn! Fast forward several decades…
I was sent a DOLE Salads‘ Taste of Spain House Party VIP party pack to create a salad party with a Spanish theme. It included lettuce coupons, a tapas tray from La Tienda, recipes and more. The idea was to present a party with all the (Dole) fixings so that guests could create their own salads. My inter goal was to create the best, to show my salad-doubting friend what role salad could REALLY play.
I channeled my inner Martha Stewart to create a festive atmosphere with ingredients that would have my amigos screaming ole!
To dress the greens, I chose a range of my favorite homemade dressings.
Spicy – Spiced Balsamic Dressing
Savory – Walnut Dressing
Tart – Meyer Lemon Vanilla Dressing from Shockingly Delicious
Sweet – Sangria Dressing (recipe below)
To accessorize the salad, guests choose from savory or sweet.
Savory: Spanish olives, marcona almonds, manchego cheese, cucumbers, red onions, micro-greens, and tomatoes
Sweet: Sangria candied almonds, fresh Dole strawberries and blueberries
There was no siesta with these salads fixings!
Partygoers eagerly jumped in. Rona, the fitness guru chose something fruity and healthy.
Tom, the typical male, made a non-girly salad (void of fruit).
Everyone’s masterpiece looked pretty impressive. I had to up my game. Which is where the pyrotechnics came in.
I hollowed out a strawberry and filled it with 100-proof vodka.
The effect was impressive, if I may say so myself! That little flame shown!
I rounded out our salad feast with savory Spanish appetizers.
These Rosemary-Lemon Spanish Olives were also a hit.
We finished with a Spanish cheese plate garnished with Fig Jam, Visi’s Mini Potato Tortillas and Fresh Pineapple & Spicy Ginger Sorbet served in Spanish Cava and/or Sparkling Chardonnay Grape Juice. Fiesta, Fiesta, it was a fiesta!
Spinach and Flaming Strawberry Sangria Salad
- 2 bags (6 ounce each) Dole baby spinach, de-stemmed, and sliced into strips
- 2 cups strawberries, trimmed and sliced lengthwise
- 6 ounces Manchego cheese, shaved
- 1 cup Sangria candied almonds (recipe below)
- 1 cup Sangria dressing (recipe below)
Sangria Candied Almonds
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/4 cup Sangria
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- Pinch salt
- Mix sugar, butter, sangria and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Continue heating until mixture reaches soft-ball stage, about 250°F. It will take approximately 8-11 minutes over medium heat.
- Pour over almonds and cool on a non-stick surface. When cool, break into pieces and store in an airtight container. Keeps up to one week.
- 4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 4 tablespoons Sangria (can substitute orange juice)
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 tablespoons shallots
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup hazelnut oil (walnut oil can be substituted)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Whisk the vinegar, Sangria, honey and shallots together in a small bowl.
- Slowly drizzle in the olive and hazelnut oil, whisking constantly until fully incorporated, and continue to whisk for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Dressing will emulsify as you add the oil.
- Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- 4-6 Dole Strawberries
- 100-proof vodka at room temperature (use Bacardi 151 for fail-proof results, and only if you don’t have a fire disaster history).
Directions for the strawberries:
- Wash and hull the strawberries carefully being careful not to pierce the side of the strawberry, or the liquor will leak out and the whole salad can catch on fire. (Having a fire extinguisher on hand is always a wise move.)
- Dry the inside of the strawberry with a paper towel.
- Nestle one strawberry in the middle of each salad. Fill strawberries with liquor just before lighting. Use a grill lighter in lieu of matches to flame the strawberry.
The Fine Print: Do not eat the flaming strawberry… seriously. Let the strawberry completely cool before drinking liquor.
Have a fire extinguisher near by. Do not try to extinguish flame with water or a plastic trash can (see paragraph 3).
Flame will naturally extinguish after a minute or two.
Arrange cut strawberries around the outside rim of a plate. Pile cut spinach in center of plate. Sprinkle with candied nuts and cheese. Place hulled strawberry in middle of spinach. Pour vodka into strawberry. Light vodka with grill lighter. Serve immediately.
Everybody got into the spirit of the party.
Nan showed us other uses for a salad bowl and Visi flamingo danced with the Dole supplied apron. Ole!
Every guest left the party with a Dole gift bag, recipes, and game cards for a chance win a $40,000 Trip to Spain.