Chow Bella

DIY Gluten-Free Raspberry Salad

Sometimes, when a friend invites you to dinner, you just want to say yes, without going into a long explanation of all the gluten-y things you can't eat. You want to go back to that innocent, carefree, ignorant time when you had no idea you had to be careful about what you put in your mouth. When your biggest concern was whether to bring a bottle of red or white wine to the front door.

See also: - Five Guys Offers Gluten-Free Happiness for the Not-So-Health Conscious - Chompie's Gluten-Free Bagels and Memories of Fifth Avenue

When I get into this frame of mind, I play offense instead of defense. I say, "Yes, I'd love to. Can I bring a salad?" That way I know I have something I can eat, and anything else my friend serves that is gluten free is gluten-free gravy.

I have a go-to salad for these occasions. It's a combination of all my favorite things, it's easy to throw together, and it gets rave reviews everywhere I take it, even from the gluten eaters.

I took it to a friend's house last week and, after lunch, after we had eaten the salad along with her delicious homemade corn tortillas, fashioned into quesadillas, after we had cleared the table, her college-junior daughter leaned over the salad bowl, picking through the remains and said, "I am obsessed with this salad."

I'd say that's a vote of confidence.

So here is my gift to you, my favorite raspberry salad, which will drive you to obsession. A note on the greens: I use hearts of Romaine with a couple handfuls of a spring mix thrown in. That way I get a lot of crunch, color and taste. You can use whatever suits you. However, I highly recommend rinsing your greens and spinning them in a salad spinner. I received a salad spinner for a wedding gift and thought it was the craziest thing I got, but now, decades later, I think it was the most practical, useful and enduring thing I received. Once your greens are spun, put them in a big baggie or two, with a paper towel on the bottom and put them in the refrigerator overnight. When you make your salad, you'll be thrilled at how fresh and crisp it is.

Raspberry, Goat Cheese, Pecan Salad

Greens (see note above) Fresh raspberries Goat cheese Pecans, chopped Salad dressing (I find that a nice balsamic vinaigrette goes well. Experiment.)

I use a wide shallow bowl to show off all the ingredients. Put the greens in the bowl, crumble the goat cheese generously across the top. Throw on the raspberries and then the pecans. Use as much or as little as you like. I really load it up, because I love all the ingredients.

I don't toss the salad, because the toppings are heavy and tend to fall to the bottom. And the fresh red raspberries and white goat cheese look beautiful sitting on top. I put the dressing on the side and let people dress their own.

Enjoy. (Another time I'll tell you how my friend makes her tortillas.)

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Judith Nichols