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Pretty pluots team with spinach and pecans in summer salad

Recipe: Pluot-spinach salad with fig balsamic vinaigrette

Pluot salad
 Fig balsamic vinaigrette ties together the elements of this cool salad.
(Photos: Debbie Arrington)
Pluots, a cross between plums and apricots, offer the sweet juicy flavor of their parents. But unlike most plums and apricots, pluots tend to stay crisp longer instead of turning mushy soft.
That makes them ideal for salads. My favorite salad pluot is Emerald Drop. This variety has attractive bright green skin and, when ripe, honey gold flesh. When juicy ripe, it still retains its crunch. That adds texture as well as flavor and color to cool summer salads.
Slices of Emerald Drop pluots look particularly attractive tossed with fresh spinach. Raisins and pecans add more texture (and just a little more sweetness). The fig balsamic vinaigrette pulls it all together.
Other pluot varieties will work, too, as will firm apricots or plums or a combination of both. After all, isn’t that when plouts are – a combination of both?
Pluot-spinach salad
Makes 2 large or 4 side servings
2 large firm pluots
¼ cup raisins

2 green pluots
These are Emerald Drop pluots, but other varieties or apricots
or plums will work in the salad.
¼ cup pecans, chopped
3 cups spinach
For dressing:
1 tablespoon fig balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine
1 teaspoon sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Wash and pit pluots. Cut fruit into thin slices. Put in a large mixing bowl.
Add raisins and pecans to the bowl.
Prepare dressing. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine balsamic vinegar, olive oil, white wine, sugar, salt and pepper. Shake to combine.
Drizzle dressing over fruit and nut mixture in bowl. Toss gently to coat fruit.
Wash spinach and pat dry. Add to fruit and nut mixture. Toss gently to combine.
Serve immediately.


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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