Toasted Hazelnut & Summer Berry Salad with Frangelico Dressing

I often think after visiting the West Coast that I would love to live on the west coast.  Sunny skies, sandy beaches, mild temperatures, etc.  But then I come back to my Midwest home and remember why I love living here – the change in seasons.

We have a very distinct, especially this year it seems, separation of spring, summer, winter and fall.  And most of all, I love that, toward the end of one season, everyone has a huge anticipation for the following season.  And while fall will probably continue to be my favorite, weather-wise, Spring wins the award for best produce.

My friends, the farmer’s markets are open, my herb garden is planted, the trees and plants and shrubs in our yard are in bloom and I’m determined to grow a green thumb!  But regardless of my current gardening abilities, I can make a mean salad.  I love, love, love throwing fresh berries onto a salad of spinach, which is the base for this one.

Toasted Hazelnut & Summer Berry Salad with Frangelico Dressing

And I decided to take a little risk with this dressing.  Working with Frangelico has opened my eyes to new salad dressing possibilities.  The idea popped into my mind when I thought about adding toasted hazelnuts to a salad – so why not make a dressing out of hazelnut liqueur?

Fortunately, Frangelico is not a cream-based liqueur so the dressing is low in calories, light-tasting, sweet and spring-y. I was afraid it would be way too sweet but the oil and herbs balanced it perfectly and this will definitely be a favorite go-to salad this summer!

Check out Frangelico online at http://bit.ly/15uibj3 and follow them on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/10vHfFv for more exciting recipes.

Toasted Hazelnut & Summer Berry Salad with Frangelico Dressing

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Toasted Hazelnut & Summer Berry Salad with Frangelico Dressing

Yield: 2 as a main dish; 4 as a side

Total Time: 20 min

A summer-inspired salad with fresh baby spinach, strawberries, blueberries, asiago cheese, toasted hazelnuts and a homemade Frangelico Vinaigrette.

Ingredients:

for the dressing:
1/4 cup + 2 Tbs. grapeseed (or olive) oil
1 Tbs. Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
1 Tbs. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 clove garlic, grated

for the salad:
1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts
4 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped
2 cups fresh strawberries, quartered
1 cup fresh blueberries
1/4 cup grated asiago cheese + more for serving

Directions:

Mix the dressing in a jar or dressing cruet until combined.

Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the hazelnuts to the dry pan and toast for 5-6 minutes, shaking often, until then hazelnuts are golden brown and fragrant. Remove from the pan.

In a large bowl, combine the spinach, strawberries, blueberries and toasted hazelnuts. Toss with tongs until all ingredients are distributed evenly. Add 1/4 cup asiago cheese and serve with the prepared dressing. Garnish with additional cheese as desired.

Serve with the dressing.

Cassie’s Notes:
If you plan to serve this salad as a main dish, you might try adding some grilled chicken or shrimp just before serving.

Toasted Hazelnut & Summer Berry Salad with Frangelico Dressing

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Frangelico.  All opinions are my own.