Harvest Salad for Michael

My boss Michael knows what he wants.  That's part of what makes him a great boss.  I don't have to try to read his mind or wonder what he thinks of my work.  He also knows every coffee shop and cafe in the state.  He lives and works in Leavenworth, but does tons of work this side of the mountains (and all over the country).  He eats lots of meals away from home, and is picky about his coffee.  Actually, the two of us ordering it together is kind of embarrassing.  Thankfully, we live in the land of longsuffering baristas and they let us get away with it.

Michael's favorite coffee shop in Leavenworth is Red Bird Coffee House.  He's trying to convince them to start offering salads on their menu.  They said they'd name one after him if he could come up with it.  This sounds like a job for The Leftoverist. Another thing I like about Michael is he's a ham like me.  He said, "Make sure you mention me in your post."  I love that.

I asked him what his favorite ingredients might be--

I love all sorts of cheese - goat, blue, etc.  And they have a local cheese shop they get really good cheese from.  I also like cranberries and any kind of nuts, especially cashews, but I know those aren't cheap.   Let's do meatless, too. And no southwestern stuff.   You're awesome!

Notice how I left the "You're awesome!" part in there.  No one has ever accused me of having a low self-esteem (though I definitely have my moments).

And he said this about Red Bird (which is also the name of Mary's Oliver's latest book of poetry.  I'm going to see her next week at Benaroya, so gird yourselves for more poetry):

Red Bird Coffee ...is absolutely the best espresso I’ve ever had.   Charlie (who owns it, along with his wife Kate) is an artist (video production) and has extremely high standards when it comes to coffee.  (Their new baby Ollie is about the cutest baby since my kids showed up.)    Locals are leaving Starbucks in droves for Red Bird. 

Sounds like I should make a trip to Leavenworth.  I still haven't met Michael's family (after working together for 1 1/2 years), so I call them the Phantom Family.  Meeting up at Red Bird to eat my Michael's salad might be the perfect way to verify their existence.

So my marching orders--blue cheese, cranberries, nuts--made this really easy.  I also wanted to include some actual vegetables, but ones that would be available  year-round.  And I made one of my classic magical dressings, without which the whole thing just might be another salad from Whole Paycheck Foods.  I just discovered the strike-through, obviously.

So here's to you and working with you, Michael, and to lots more healthy organizations because of it.

Harvest Salad
(serves four) You could use toasted pecans in place of the candied cashews and feta or chevre instead of blue cheese, and dried cherries instead of cranberries if you want.

8 cups mixed greens or spinach
4 carrots, peeled and julienned (cut into matchsticks)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
4 Tb. sugar
1 c. crumbled blue cheese
1 c. sliced celery
1 c. candied raw cashews (fine the easy stovetop method for candied nuts here)
1 Granny Smith apple, thinly sliced

1 clove minced garlic
3 Tb. honey
5 Tb. apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
2/3 c. dried cranberries

For dressing:  Combine garlic, honey, vinegar, and salt and pepper.  Whisk in olive oil to emulsify, tasting as you go. Drop cranberries in and let macerate while you make the salad.

For marinated carrots: Put julienned carrots in a bowl with vinegar and sugar, add a little water to barely cover, and stir.  Let sit while you make the salad.

For salad:  Line four dinner plates with greens.  Arrange all ingredients on top in distinct little piles:  marinated carrots (drained), blue cheese, celery, apple. candied nuts.  Spoon the cranberries from the dressing and do the same.  Drizzle dressing over whole salad.