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Balsamic Strawberry Salad

July 31, 2012

As you already know, strawberry season is here and I have strawberries on the brain as well as in the fridge.

Farm to Table

Okay, we know about strawberry crisps, cobblers, muffins, quick breads, shortcakes, even crostatas.

Also, fresh strawberry sauce (using a blender) and cooked strawberry sauce.

Strawberries with yogurt, with cereal, straight out of the fridge.

In a smoothie (see 2 posts ago).

Hey, how about in a salad? Yeah, yeah, yeah! That’s the  ticket for dinner tonight… with chicken burgers, corn on the cob and dill cole slaw. And eating outside on the back porch…aaahhhh.

One moment, please… I need to clarify something. Back where I come from, long ago and far away (actually, the Bronx), this is what we generally put in a salad:

lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, scallion, peppers, radishes, mushrooms (maybe), hearts of palm (big maybe), shredded carrots (also a maybe).

But fruit? Before dessert? Definitely NOT registering on the radar screen of yesteryear.

Back to the present, here in California, no less… bring on the fruit!

half romaine, half baby spinach

The fun stuff

I invite you to please invite any of the following fruit (depending on season) to star in your next salad:

Strawberries – excellent with a good balsamic vinegar or a maple syrup-spiked vinaigrette

Peaches – terrific roasted and cubed with a raspberry vinaigrette

Cantaloupe – awesome with arugula

Watermelon – so good with thinly sliced red onions and watercress

Apples – try an updated Waldorf with a tahini-based dressing

Pears – great with dried cranberries and cheese & nuts

Oranges – wonderful with thinly sliced fennel or jicama

Mandarin Oranges – bring on the Chinese Chicken Salad

There are tons of fruit-based salads… so please share what your favorite is in the comments section below.

bbtip: Tomatoes are fruit too! I let them star in their own salads and so I prefer not to mix them into salads starring other fruit. There’s enough bounty to let the fruit shine in their own salads. Save the healthy competition for business.

Perfect for summer dining

Balsamic Strawberry Salad

Ingredients:
1 c. strawberries, hulled and quartered length-wise
1 T. balsamic vinegar
2 c. romaine lettuce (or any greens you like)
2 c. baby spinach leaves, torn
1 green onion (AKA scallion), thinly sliced
2 Persian cucumbers, sliced in half-circles
2 t. lemon juice
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
2 T. chopped fresh herbs -try mint, Italian parsley, or lemon thyme, or pineapple sage (the latter 2 are growing on my back
porch and they’re very aromatic! If you can find them in a nursery, get ’em, get ’em!)
2 T. nuts -lightly toasted pecans, walnuts or almonds (optional), I used pecans for this salad
2 T. crumbled goat cheese or French feta (optional)

Directions:

Place cut-up strawberries in small bowl and pour balsamic vinegar over them. Toss gently and set aside for 20 minutes. This process is known as “macerating the fruit”  – allowing the natural sugars in the fruit to intensify. Roasting fruit is another way to deepen flavor. Or just cut them in as-is if you have very ripe fruit and you’re in a rush.

While the strawberries are doing their thing, prepare the greens (feel free to use any combo you like). Also, I admit to never measuring greens. I figure a large handful is about one cup and then take way/add more depending on the other ingredients. Okay, I don’t usually measure the other salad ingredients, period. There, you’ve found me out.

Slice green onions and cucumbers. Toss them into greens and sprinkle with lemon juice and olive oil. Sprinkle on chopped fresh herbs. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Lay strawberries over the top of the salad with the balsamic vinegar. Using cheese/nuts are optional but they are oh-so-good. Toasting the nuts in a dry skillet for a few minutes (until they are aromatic – do NOT leave the kitchen) enhances the flavor by bringing out their natural oils.

I like using either goat cheese in this salad for a milder effect or French feta for a more assertive addition (generally French feta is a bit less salty that Greek feta). Sprinkle cheese over strawberries, along with nuts, Toss table-side and enjoy!

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From → Fruit, Mains, Sides

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