Monday, April 2, 2012

The Quintessential Desert Resort and Salad

One of my favorite places to visit here in the California desert is around the corner from us, a place called The La Quinta Resort. It was built in 1926 in the Spanish hacienda ranch style, which is a favorite of mine with cozy terracotta floored casitas surrounded by mature foliage and citrus trees all tucked back into the base of the mountains.

Back in the day, it was a popular hideaway for the Hollywood elite looking to escape to pools, tennis and golf and still a draw for those in the know today. The Christmas classic movie, It's a Wonderful Life was actually written by Frank Capra in one of the casitas and every Christmas they make this place magical with lights and decoration.

It became such a landmark that the town of La Quinta was named after it. It is still a charming resort and since it is now run by a large hotel chain, we keep our fingers crossed that they won't modernize it too much and ruin it.

I like to visit because it always has a spectacular show of flowers any time of year. It's like a giant garden, something we don't see all that much here. One of my favorite places there is a restaurant that has a large sunny patio with umbrellas, which surprisingly is a rarity around here as well.

There is a fountain providing the cooling sound of water as a backdrop and lots of color in the plants that surround the patio.  It's a nice place to go and enjoy our sunny weather. My dish of choice is their Mandarin Orange Salad, minus the chicken.

Since our desert is full of citrus this just seems like the perfect California Desert Salad.

Just the other day I was feeling like I needed a vacation, a change of scenery to just get outside and soak up some sunshine.  Visiting the resort always feels like a vacation to me. So we went. The grounds were beautiful and the flowers put up a good show, as always. I ordered my salad but perhaps memory is better than reality or they changed it. Sadly, my taste buds were disappointed.

I thought... I can make this better.  So that's what I did!

A blend of California classics, mandarin oranges and almonds with the addition of sunflower sprouts, a mix of romaine, cabbage, broccoli, carrots, green onion and mung bean sprouts, with an asian inspired ginger soy dressing sweetened with honey and lime. This time I was not disappointed!

Mandarin Orange Salad
with a Sweet Soy Ginger Dressing

Mandarin Orange Salad with Sweet Soy Ginger Dressing


Salad Mix
green cabbage
carrots shredded
broccoli slaw
bean sprouts
romaine lettuce, chopped finely (optional)
8 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
 3 green onions, chopped finely
1/3 cup slivered almonds
sunflower sprouts

I actually buy the first 4 ingredients in bags and mix together in a large ziplock to have ready for salad anytime. It keeps for about a week in the fridge as long as I toss only the amount I need with dressing when ready to eat. 

For the salad, take the first four items plus the romaine if using and toss with dressing.  Figure about 2-3 cups salad per person for main entree and just enough dressing to coat lightly. The dressing is strong so a little goes a long way. Add the green onions, mandarins, and slivered almonds and toss again before serving. Sprinkle the sunflower sprouts over the top with a few more almonds as well.

Sweet Soy Ginger Dressing
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 Tbsp grated fresh peeled ginger
3 Tbsp honey or agave
 juice of one lime
1/2 cup olive or sesame oil
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil (optional)
1/3 cup Nama Shoyu or Tamari (soy sauce)
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro
1/4 cup water

Blend all in a blender until well emulsified. Chill to let flavors marry.
Makes about 2 cups

I hope you give it a try and enjoy!

Ps: all the pictures of the resort are from the La Quinta resort's website. 
Sometimes it's best to let the professionals do things. 


Treesa said...

That's one thing I miss about California...the citrus. It just doesn't taste as good when you have to truck it in, even if we're only a state away.
Beautiful pic, btw!

Jodi~GettingRaw said...

Thanks Treesa. We are spoiled here with the local citrus that's for sure. The Cutie brand of tangerines/mandarins are pretty good though. can you get those where you are?


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