Saved by CPK…

Spinach. Salt. Cinnamon. Try to create a meal with those three ingredients. That is what I am doing after being assigned the three most random ingredients in class. Once I finished stressing about what I could make with them, I quickly remembered one of my favorite salads from California Pizza Kitchen, the “Chicken Waldorf Salad”.  So below is my version of the salad from CPK.


  • Spinach (or a bag of mixed baby greens would work since there is spinach included, it is based on one’s preference)
  • Grapes (seedless)
  • 1 Apple
  • Gorgonzola cheese
  • Candied walnuts
  • Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette

How to make the salad:

  1. Cut grapes into halves.
  2. Chop apple into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a bowl, mix together the spinach, grapes, apple, and candied walnuts.
  4. Crumble the gorgonzola cheese over the top.
  5. Pour the vinaigrette into the salad and toss together.
  6. Place the salad on a plate and enjoy!

How to make the Candied Walnuts:

I found this original recipe From Mary Ann, The Frugal Chef’s website. I did add cinnamon and lowered the amount of walnuts and sugar from which she used in her video clip. The link to her website is


  • 1 heaping cup of Walnuts
  • 1/2 cup of Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. of Ground Cinnamon
  1. Put the Walnuts, Sugar, and Ground Cinnamon in the frying pan.
  2. On Medium heat, constantly stir nuts, sugar, and cinnamon. The walnuts will burn easily, so keep moving them around to prevent any burning.
  3. After the sugar has melted, quickly pour candied walnuts onto a piece of wax or parchment paper to cool and harden. Once they are cooled separate any big chunks.



How to make the Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette:

I found the original recipe for the dressing from; however, I changed the measurements for my personal taste and also added a tiny bit of sugar.  The link to the website is:


  • 1/2 cup of Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. of Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp. of Minced Garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. Salt  
  • 1/4 tsp. Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp. sugar
  1. Pour all ingredients into an empty salad dressing bottle and shake vigorously to mix everything together. However if you do not have a salad dressing bottle, just whisk together all the ingredients in a bowl.
  2. Place vinaigrette, in the refrigerator to chill.

Review of the salad:

This salad was easy to make. I am not a fan of making salads because I am a firm believer that salads taste better when someone else makes them. Therefore, after getting the idea to recreate my favorite salad from California Pizza Kitchen, I was eager to make it and put it together.

I could have easily bought pre-made vinaigrette or candied walnuts; however, I wanted to make them on my own. I have never made a salad dressing from scratch, or candied walnuts, so I knew it would be an adventure. The Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette could have turned out horribly; it could have been too acidic due to the vinegar. Therefore, I made sure I took my time to add ingredients little by little and to taste test throughout this experimentation. For the vinaigrette, I added the sugar at the end because it didn’t tickle my palate or leave me yearning for more. Therefore, I felt it needed an extra punch of flavor. I decided on adding sugar because I wanted the vinaigrette to be sweeter rather than salty or sour. I felt that little pinch of sugar added the right amount of sweetness to make it delectable.

Furthermore, the walnuts could have easily been burned as well, which would give them a harsh and charred flavor. The recipe was short and quick, which left very little time for mistakes. The sugar and walnuts needed to be constantly stirred to prevent any burning. Once the sugar began to melt, it would clump up. This is when the stirring became crucial to not scorching the walnuts. I continued to stir so each walnut would be evenly coated with the sweet syrup that had been made. Once all the clumps of sugar were melted, I poured the walnuts onto parchment paper to cool and harden. Then I broke them up into little pieces to be tossed into the salad later. I also discovered that these candied walnut make a great snack too!

My favorite part about this salad is that it could be made in parts throughout the day. For example, the candied walnuts and vinaigrette could be made the day before you want to serve the salad; thus, a majority of the work is already done. All that would be left is slicing the grapes and apple, which leaves all the ingredients to be tossed together in a bowl.



About dkb1

I am a senior at St. Mary's College. I am a Liberal & Civic Studies major with a Theology & Religious Studies minor. View all posts by dkb1

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