South Valley Park Walnut, Date, and Herb Salad

South Valley Park Colorado
Trail Run, Coyote Song Trail, South Valley Park. JeffCo Open Space, Colorado. Image by author.

I don’t usually need a footrace looming for me to tie on my sneakers and pound the pavement, but training for a longer race is a good way to scramble out of a running rut. Participating in the Achill Island’s Half Marathon last month was my big running goal for the summer. Though I didn’t reach a personal record, time-wise, running along the rolling hills and waving to dye-splotched sheep as they grazed at the roadside was one of my more memorable footrace adventures.

I’ve decided to continue chasing that running high by hitting local Colorado trails as often as possible before the snow drifts so high I’ll be forced to trade my trainers for cross-country skis.

Last weekend Cameron and I hit the trails southwest of the city for a middle-distance run at nearby South Valley Park.

South Valley Park
South Valley Park Trailhead. Image by author.

Part of Jefferson County’s Open Space, the park is a 20-minute drive from our house, which made a morning run possible without rising before dawn. While there were no grazing sheep along this park’s trails, I was surprised by how close the trails edge Lockheed Martin’s main engineering facility. Nothing like jogging along the high desert hills, completely lost in thought, and catching sight of the metallic angles of one of the nation’s most well-known defense companies.

South Valley Park
Cameron, about to get his run on. South Valley Park. Image by author.

As you’ll note from the photo above, the sun is high and bright even on a Saturday morning, so be sure to slather on the sunblock and get your run in early in Colorado, particularly for South Valley trails, since many of them offer minimal shade.

Below you’ll find another summer salad offering to enjoy while the sun is high and the vegetables are plentiful. We ate this salad alongside our hearty Sunday dinner last week and made enough of the Lemony Balsamic Vinaigrette to dress two more side salads this week. Both recipes originate from Rebecca Katz’s whole-foods cookbook, The Longevity Kitchen. I’ve been singing its praises for the past year and continue to make my through the many flavorful and healthy recipes in her book.

Longevity Kitchen Herb Salad with Dates, Walnuts, and Chèvre
Image by author.

Walnut, Date, and Herb Salad
(adapted from a Longevity Kitchen recipe)
Makes 4 servings

– 4 cups tightly packed arugula (We used mixed spring greens.)
– 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh parsley leaves (We omitted this ingredient, and the salad was still great!)
– 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
– 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted
– 1/4 cup chopped dates
– 4 oz organic chèvre or other soft goat cheese, crumbled
– 1/2 cup Lemony Balsamic Vinaigrette (recipe follows)

Put the arugula, parsley, and mint in a bowl and toss to combine. Add the walnuts dates, and chèvre, drizzle with the vinaigrette, and toss again.

Lemony Balsamic Vinaigrette
(a Longevity Kitchen recipe)
Makes 1/2 cup

– 2 TBS Balsamic Vinegar
– 2 TBS freshly squeezed lemon juice
– 1/2 tsp lemon zest
– 1/2 tsp sea salt
– 1/2 tsp black pepper
– 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Combine all of the ingredients in the order above. Whisk until thoroughly blended.

4 Comments Add yours

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thanks, Elizabeth!

  1. Fig & Quince says:

    really like the recipe and love that last image!

    1. gwynnem says:

      Thank you, Azita!

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