February 11, 2014

Raspberry Salad or Flatbread with Cocoa Balsamic Vinaigrette


With Valentine's Day coming up this week, I've been trying to come up with a cute Valentines-themed recipe to celebrate the holiday with.

In the past, I've made this miniature raw beet cheesecake, these baked banana, chocolate and strawberry wontons, and this pretty pink beet pasta, but this year I just couldn't seem to come up with anything unique that hasn't already been done.

So I gave up on trying to think of a heart-shaped or red-coloured dessert and instead decided to make something to serve as part of your Valentine's dinner menu - this elegant and tasty salad!

I happened to remember Courtney from The Fig Tree's Valentine's Day post from last year when she shared a raspberry salad with cocoa-balsamic dressing. I thought it was such a creative idea to use cocoa powder in a salad dressing, and of course her salad looked gorgeous too!

For my version, I made a couple of slight modifications to the dressing, and for the salad itself I used candied almonds to add more sweetness, goat cheese instead of parmesan, and added some fresh mint and cacao nibs. It may sound like a strange combination of ingredients, but I thought everything worked really well together!

I loved the crunch from the almonds and cacao nibs, and the raspberries paired perfectly with the subtle chocolate notes in the dressing. It almost tasted like eating dessert, but in the form of a salad that you can start off your dinner with instead!

Or if a salad doesn't fit into your menu, another option is to turn this into an easy flatbread - just toast a piece of naan bread in the oven, spread some goat cheese on it, and top with the rest of the salad ingredients. I usually like to have bread with my salad anyway, so this was a fun way to eat both together!

After trying the recipe both ways, I couldn't decide whether I liked the salad version or the flatbread best!

Whether you plan on celebrating Valentine's Day or not, this would still be a nice appetizer to impress a date or to share with a friend or loved one. I actually haven't figured out what I'll be eating on the day itself, but I do plan on making cookies to share - after all, even if a lot of people hate Valentine's Day, most of them still like cookies!

Raspberry Almond Salad or Flatbread with Cocoa-Balsamic Vinaigrette
Adapted from The Fig Tree

2 tbsp slivered almonds
1 tsp sugar
~4 cups spring mix or baby greens
fresh raspberries
1-2 tbsp goat cheese, crumbled
2-3 tsp cacao nibs (I used these coconut cacao nibs)
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 pieces of naan bread (optional for flatbread)

1.5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp pure maple syrup
1/2 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp balsamic Dijon mustard (or whole grain Dijon)
Salt and pepper

If making the flatbread, preheat oven to 400°F.

Heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds and sugar and toast for a few minutes, stirring often as the sugar starts to melt and coat the almonds. Keep a close eye on them and once the almonds are lightly toasted, remove from heat and transfer to a small bowl.

To make the dressing, whisk together the first five ingredients in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Place salad greens in a large bowl and toss with about a couple tablespoons of the dressing.

For salad: arrange dressed greens on two plates. Top each serving with a handful of raspberries (cut them in half first if they’re large), the goat cheese, cacao nibs, mint, and candied almonds. Drizzle remaining dressing over top.

For flatbread: Place two pieces of naan on a baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 minutes. Spread the goat cheese over the naan, then top with the dressed salad greens, the raspberries, cacao nibs, mint, and candied almonds. Drizzle remaining dressing over top. Slice into pieces (I found it easier to slice the naan before adding the toppings).

Makes 2 servings


  1. I have wanted to try Courtney's version of this for a while now and now this gives me more motivation to try both versions! This would be the perfect component of a Valentines meal!

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