This Spicy Walnut blue cheese and Blood Orange Salad has everything you can ask for in a salad. Its savory, spicy with a little sweet and tartness. The perfect flavor combo for a light and heart smart lunch or dinner!
February is American Heart Month and to help spread awareness, I’ve created this salad that is loaded with heart-healthy goodness!
Did you know that many of the risk factors associated with heart disease can be controlled with dietary and lifestyle changes?
The best thing you can do to help reduce the risk of heart disease is to have a diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, citrus, and not to mention one of my favorites ̶ good unsaturated fats.
And one of my favorite sources for good, unsaturated fats? Walnuts. Hands down. I easily eat a handful or two of walnuts a day.
Walnuts are an excellent source of omega-3 ALA (2.5goz) which is important for heart health and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Not only does adding more walnuts into your overall healthy diet help support healthy cholesterol levels, they’re also really versatile with what you can do with them.
Like for this spicy walnut blue cheese and blood orange salad? I not only made a vinaigrette out of walnuts but toasted them with some peppers and seasoning to make an amazing toasted walnut that packs some heat.
I’m not going to lie. I had to hide them until I was ready to shoot photos because I kept snacking on them. It was like popcorn!
This salad had a lot of things going on that are great for your heart. Including good unsaturated fats from the olive oil and walnuts (1).
It’s got the citrus thing going on with the blood oranges (pro tip: if you can find raspberry blood oranges opt for those!) And we have a little dairy going on with the blue cheese. A trifecta!
And the walnut dressing is out of this world. It has a balsamic vinaigrette vibe to it, but the addition of the blended walnuts gives it a creaminess that really balances out the acidity.
Plus, you’re getting so much flavor in each bite its just amazing.
And by so much flavor, I’m talking buttery, spicy walnuts in one bite, funky blue cheese and sweet and tart blood oranges in another. This is my kind of salad.
No seriously, I finished the one in the photo in under a minute after the shoot was over!
A Spicy walnut and blood orange salad in your life is a great way to fit in some walnuts for the day. When these brain-shaped nuts have been researched for their role in healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels and also contain melatonin (3.5 +/- 1.0 ng/g), which is important for a healthy sleep cycle (2), I’ll be sure to keep these stocked in my house 24-7!
Visit California Walnuts to learn more about how walnuts can help with heart health.
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil has 10g monounsaturated fat and 1.5 g polyunsaturated fat. 1 once of walnuts has 2.5g monounsaturated fat and 13g polyunsaturated fat.
- Reiter RJ, Manchester LC, Tan DX. Melatonin in walnuts: influence on levels of melatonin and total antioxidant capacity of blood. Nutrition. 2005;21(9):920-924.
Spicy Walnut Blue Cheese and Blood Orange Salad with Walnut Vinaigrette
FOR THE SPICY WALNUTS
- 1 cup walnut halves
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 5-6 dried Japanese peppers optional
- 1 tbsp paprika
- ½ tbsp chipotle seasoning
- 1/2 tsp crushed pepper flakes
- Salt to taste
FOR THE WALNUT VINAIGRETTE
- 1/3 cup walnut halves
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
- ¼ cup water
- ½ tsp cracked pepper
- 1 tsp turmeric optional
- FOR THE SALAD
- 16 oz spring mix salad
- 3 oz blue cheese
- 2 blood oranges
- For the spicy walnuts: toast in a pan with olive oil, peppers, and seasonings for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Let rest on a paper towel.
- For the vinaigrette: place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Slice blood oranges, removing the peel. Top salad with blood oranges, walnuts, blue cheese. Drizzle with vinaigrette and serve!