A Blueberry Charmed Life

I found my thrill … on Blueberry Hill, as the song goes. (And cue Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “Blueberry Hill.”) Though I suppose—if we are being technical—I really found my thrill on Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester.

Gloucester is America’s oldest seaport town. It screams Americana with its quaint bed and breakfasts, flag-garnished porches, and beaches filled with oversized striped umbrellas. Thrill-ing.

What was also thrilling was stumbling upon a new blueberry recipe entirely by accident. Well, by accident and by dreadful hearing. On this blue-skied beach day in Gloucester, my mother and I were surfing through food magazines. She mentioned she wanted to try Martha Stewart’s recipe for blueberry salad dressing.

Or so I thought. At least, that was what I heard. What she actually said was blue cheese dressing. My hearing is embarrassingly bad and I must have had blueberries on the subconscious.

Can you really blame me? Like the iconic beaches in Gloucester, blueberries conjure up Americana sentiment. I’d even argue they are more American than apple pie. These little blue berries are part of a highly select group of fruits actually native to North America. (I’ve got news for you apple pie: your apples originated in Asia. Hmm. “As American as apple pie” is a little misleading, don’t you think?)

Blueberries will always hold a special place in my heart. During my childhood, blueberry pie was eaten at grandma’s, preferably with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Blueberry muffins were downed two at a time, typically after the family went blueberry picking. And pancakes were studded with them, served up on a lazy summer mornings. Kid, you led a pretty charmed life. Or perhaps a blueberry charmed life, if your hearing is a little faulty like mine.

And thank goodness: that night an impromptu blueberry vinaigrette was born. There was no turning back. The blueberries had been bought and the blue cheese hadn’t, due entirely to an auditory error. I had to deliver. Maybe it was the sight of the fishing boats in Gloucester. Maybe it was the spell of the blueberries. Maybe it was Louis Armstrong. In the interest of all things American, my can-do spirit went straight to the pantry: and came back with a dressing to serve with goat cheese, instead of the blue variety.

And boy was this salad swell. The blueberries, goat cheese and walnuts sang brilliantly together. Maybe I really do lead a blueberry charmed life. Cue the music, Louis.

Blueberry Vinaigrette Over Goat Cheese and Greens

Blueberry Vinaigrette
1.5 cups blueberries
1 lime, juice and zest
1.5 tbsp sherry vinegar
1 tbsp maple syrup
3 tbsp hazelnut oil
About 1/2 tsp salt
Pinch of black pepper
Pinch of red chili flakes
2 lavender flower buds (about 1/4 tsp)

Makes 1/2 cup (about enough for 2-4 salads, depending on if they are starter or entree salads)

Blend blueberries, lime juice and zest, and sherry vinegar in a food processor. Strain out blueberry skins using a strainer, pressing down on the blueberries with a rubber spatula to release all of their juice. Whisk blueberry juice, maple syrup and oil together and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and lavender.

For the salad:
Simply pour the blueberry vinaigrette over greens, sliced goat cheese and fresh blueberries; top with walnuts.

I strongly dislike coming up with recipes for meals that are approximations. Use your judgement regarding how much of each of the salad components you use. You can't go wrong.

I added lavender because I had it around; you don’t need it, but its floral quality worked well with the goat cheese.

The nuttiness of the hazelnut oil really makes this dressing. If you don’t have it around you could try adding a little toasted sesame oil with some canola oil instead.

An added bonus: no ovens were turned on in the making of this recipe.


  1. I like no ovens...it's HOT in America's heartland! This dressing intrigues me and will have to try it. We have a blueberry farm close by and I love to pick!

  2. I have tried blueberry dressing with walnuts and really loved it. This looks really good like something I would want to pour over chèvre. Thanks for the recipes.


  3. Props to you for using the word "swell"! Interesting recipe for vinaigrette. I love the lavender addition. I can't wait to try it!

  4. Whether your hearing was playing tricks on you or not, blueberry dressing sounds much more appropriate about now than blue cheese. Excellent recipe as I know the lavender that is growing on the back porch and the blueberries in the fridge will be glad to find their purpose.

  5. Great vinergette. I love that you combined goat cheese and blueberries.

  6. This sounds simply...AWESOME! I love the idea of the blueberry with the red pepper chili flakes! So easy and looks so flavorful!

  7. Jane: I am jealous of your proximity to blueberries; city living does has its downside ...

    Patricia: The goat cheese with the blueberries turned out to be a fabulous combo; I hope you have good success with your chèvre!

    Jess: It's swell you think so. ;)

    Cocina: Agreed, I never thought I'd say this ... but I am glad my hearing is a little dicey at times.

    Joy: You can't go wrong with goat cheese. Ever.

    Fun and Fearless: It is criminal how easy it was. I almost can't believe we haven't run into each other on Beacon Hill!

  8. Fabulous idea...a blueberry vinaigrette. A can't wait to try it. It would be marvelous over a fruit salad too!

  9. The photo looks amazing! I saw that costco has a container of blueberries and I wanted to buy them but didn't because I thought it was a few too many.... but now I'm going to get some next week to try this.

  10. Barbara: You can't go wrong ... the color of the vinaigrette alone is enough to make me a happy happy lady.

    One Pair Two Pear: You can never have too many blueberries. ;)

    Happy cooking!

  11. What a beautiful salad! Another variation is made with raspberries - I made a vinaigrette with the more smashed ones (they are such delicate little suckers!) after berry picking last summer. It was delish, as I'm sure this recipe is too. Will have to try it!

  12. what a lovely way to use blueberries! i adore those magical berries. just bought 2.5 lbs at the market! can't wait to try your recipe.

  13. interesting duet! Never seen something like that before..

  14. Emily: Fabulous idea with the raspberries; they do smash so easily, don't they?

    Lick my spoon: It's easy to get overzealous with the little blue buggers, is it not?! I'm sure you'll put them all to good use!

    Sugar plum: I know; I saw a goat cheese cheesecake recipe recently ... thinking blueberry sauce may be the perfect pairing.

  15. Wow, what a nice vinaigrette...love the idea of using blueberries...

  16. Oh wow, just found your blog and I *really* wish I knew about this recipe last month when I was getting blueberries in my farm share every week! Can't wait to try the recipe; thanks so much for sharing.