SERVE UP SOME INLAND EMPIRE SALAD

This attractive and refreshing salad is inspired by our region’s many wonderful harvest celebrations. It contains oranges, in honor of San Bernardino’s National Orange Show, and lemon, a nod to Upland’s Lemon Festival, and green olives, in tribute to Ontario’s wonderful Graber Olives, and cherries, a salute to Cherry Valley’s annual Cherry Festival, and dates, in recognition of the Indio Date Festival, and almonds, to commemorate the fact that pioneer San Gorgonio Pass almond growers helped form the 1910 cooperative that became Blue Diamond Growers, world’s largest tree-nut processing and marketing company.

INLAND EMPIRE SALAD

Ingredients
2-ounce bag raw sliced almonds
Handful chopped dates
4 ripe, flavorful navel oranges, each one cut in half, then each half cut into three slices, then each slice sectioned into three or four orange pieces free of pulp. Reserve juice.
6-ounce can green olives, pitted, halved or quartered
16 ounces frozen pitted cherries, thawed but still cold
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
12-ounce bag chopped hearts of romaine lettuce
12-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
Dressing:
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon salad vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 tablespoons reserved orange juice
1 tablespoon sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Empty almonds into a dry frying plan and lightly toast over medium heat,
stirring constantly. When nuts just begin to brown, remove immediately
from heat and continue stirring constantly for 60 seconds. Pour nuts
into a heat-safe bowl or dish and set aside.

Whisk dressing and toss with lettuce, spinach, onion, olives and dates in salad bowl. Add salt and pepper if desired. Drain cherries, if necessary, and scatter on top of greens. Drain orange pieces, if necessary, and scatter on top of cherries. Scatter most or all of the toasted almonds on top of the salad, without overly obscuring the fruit. Serve.