• 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2/3 cups walnut oil
  • Zest of one large orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Bunch of basil leaves torn or chiffonade
  • 3/4 cup blackberries
  • 1/2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 cup Spiced Nuts (click on recipe link)

It’s the second week of Food Network’s Fall Fest! The Food Network teams up with bloggers like me to share our favorites recipes using the wonderful vegetables and fruits available during the fall months! This week’s featured ingredient is… drum roll please… spinach!


The health benefits of spinach are many like decreasing inflammation, increasing bone health, and protection against heart disease and some forms of cancer. Spinach also helps guard your eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration. So when it comes to nutritional foods, spinach certainly sports an impressive lineup of vitamins and minerals!


Choose bright green, unwilted leaves free of dark spots. Buying from local farmers decreases the time it takes from farm to table. Fall is the perfect time to eat spinach. Spinach tastes best in spring and fall.


Always wrap your spinach in paper towels and store in the vegetable drawer of your refrigerator. Spinach usually stays fresh for up to four or five days. Change your paper towel every couple of days.

Some of my favorite ways to eat spinach are in quiche, fondue, turkey burgers, roasted vegetable lasagna, tiropitas, in my farro, cherry tomato and spinach salad, spanakopita and in this delicious spinach salad with pecans, cranberries and a maple vinaigrette.

Here’s what I was thinking when I created this salad:

  • Because of all of the nutrients found in spinach I will create a recipe using raw baby spinach leaves.
  • I love the combination of cranberry and orange.
  • Textures are so important when creating recipes; spiced nuts would be a great substitute for croutons.
  • A maple-orange vinaigrette would be perfect for this fall salad!
  • Sweet and salty makes a great combination and so I’ll add a little feta to my salad.

Begin by making your spiced nuts. (This can be done in advance).

This recipe makes 4 cups so you can either half or quarter the recipe if you would like or simply store it for unexpected company or gifts! My friend Lori Ferguson from Encourage Your Spouse and I made these gift boxes together for the 2011 Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner Party. It was so much fun!

Wash and dry spinach leaves even if they come in a package marked “prewashed.”

Make your vinaigrette:

I like making my salad dressings in a mason jar because I can shake it up, seal it and store it, but you can also make this in a bowl and then store in a sealed container. Combine maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, orange zest, walnut oil and a pinch of salt. Shake and set aside.

Place your beautiful spinach on a serving platter. Add chopped parsley and basil. Adorn it with blackberries, crumbled feta cheese, dried cranberries and spiced nuts. Drizzle maple vinaigrette over the top of your salad, toss and enjoy!


Elise & family

Be sure to check out my friend’s recipes featuring spinach:

Jeanette’s Healthy Living: Skinny Hot Spinach Dip
Feed Me Phoebe: October Evening Lentil Soup With Spinach
And Love It Too: Grain-Free Spinach Pie
Cooking With Elise: Baby Spinach Salad With Cranberries, Spiced Pecans and a Maple Vinaigrette
Virtually Homemade: Three Onion Dip With Spinach
HGTV Gardens: Garden-to-Table: Spinach
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Whole-Wheat Pasta With Spicy Spinach and Peanut Butter Pesto
Thursday Night Dinner: Spinach Ice Cream
Cooking Channel: Fresh Spinach in Indian Recipes
Daily*Dishin: Spinach-Sausage Saute With Pan-Fried Gnocchi
Delicious Lean: Spinach Leaf Roll Ups
Bacon and Souffle: Baby Spinach Pizza With Sopressata and Sriracha
FN Dish: Stuff It With Spinach