Christmas-Eve Salad

ATTENTION: 90 days until Christmas!

Three months from today is THE day.  I am almost tempted to wear my Charlie Brown Christmas tree t-shirt or the one that has a Rudolph nose that actually glows red.  Needless to say, Christmas and I have a tight relationship. I listen to Christmas music the minute it becomes socially acceptable (no, tolerated…) and look forward to Christmas craft magazines hitting the shelves.

In order to celebrate the nearness of Christmas without overwhelming people with yuletide cheer, I am expressing my enthusiasm via today’s salad recipe.

The original recipe came from Southern Living, but it’s been long enough since my family first tried it that I don’t remember whether Christmas-Eve Salad was the original name or became the name after we ate it on said date.

My mom has tweaked it over the years and now it’s a go-to in our salad repertoire.  In fact, it was the first meal I made for The Hubs in our new place!  The colors are festive and there’s enough protein from bacon and cheese to make it a light entree.

A note on the cheese choice: string cheese may seem like an odd option, but it creates the perfect size pieces of mozzarella with little hassle.  Plus, the discs add visual contrast to the otherwise diced ingredients.

Christmas Eve Salad

adapted from Southern Living // serves 4

Salty bacon, creamy avocado, and toasty walnuts are what set this spinach based salad apart.  Not only do the colors reflect the festive season, the ingredients truly create a holiday in your mouth.

Give this salad an even lighter touch with a few simple substitutions.  Use light string cheese and fat free Catalina (Kraft makes a great one!)

The ingredient amounts listed below reflect my preference for salads with a pretty even greens to mix-ins ratio.  Feel free to play around to get it perfect for your salad palette.

1 (12 oz) bag baby spinach, chopped

1 large red bell pepper, diced

1 avocado, diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half

4 sticks string cheese, sliced 

1 cup walnuts

8 strips bacon

Catalina salad dressing  

Cut bacon strips into 1/4 inch wide pieces.  Fry until crispy.  Let excess grease drain off on paper towels.

Toast walnuts in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat when they become fragrant and lightly browned. Let cool while you prep other ingredients.

Chop spinach.  Dice red pepper and peeled avocado.  Cut tomatoes in half, discarding seeds if desired. Unwrap string cheese.  Slice horizontally to create thin discs.  Chop cooled walnuts.

Place spinach, red pepper, avocado, tomatoes, string cheese, walnuts, and bacon in a serving bowl.  Toss with Catalina dressing.

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