Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Salad Series : Strawberry & Spinach

The concept of spinach and strawberry in salad form is likely no stranger to many (if not all) of you. In fact, I feel a little guilty for even posting it considering how it's entirely unoriginal. Perhaps it even borders on the boring side of things? So, for my ease of mind I must make you understand why I'm posting this recipe: 

One, surely there must be a few of you out there who have a.) never heard of such a thing or b.) as of this moment have yet to make or taste a strawberry spinach salad. 

Two, I love it. I love the textures. I love the flavors. I love how it pairs well with a variety of proteins from fish to pork. I love the dressing so much I could pour it in a mug and drink it. And, I love the simplicity. That's a whole lotta love!

I adore the fresh, earthy spinach. Topping a large pile of greens with berries bursting of juice and sweet natural sugars like shuksan strawberries is just genius in my book. The two flavors and textures play so well off of one another. Crunchy spinach leaves, soft flesh-like berries. Pan toasted sliced almonds and tangy sesame seed studded vinaigrette are the crowning jewels. 

All the ingredients are fairly straightforward and simple right? You've got a heavy dose of spinach, plenty of strawberries quartered, then a light dusting of toasted almonds. So, how about we get to that vinaigrette I can't get enough of? I can't exactly explain to you why, but this v is something special. Sure, it's got your usual v suspects, a bit of oil and vinegar, but added to that is one sweet shallot finely minced, paprika, a pinch of cayenne, a shake of worcestershire, a bit of white sugar, plus a healthy dose of poppy and sesame seeds. The paprika and cayenne give this dressing a smoky kick. The worcestershire is a flavor that's hard to describe, meaty isn't exactly it, but boy does it give this dressing a lift. The sugar balances out the vinegar as well as the worcestershire, while the shallot helps to keep it all in balance being a mix of pungent with sweet. The seeds add to the mix, every now and again you'll get a burst of poppy or sesame flavor, but if you don't have either in the pantry, don't worry, it won't make or break this vinaigrette. Despite perhaps bordering on boring, or unoriginal, it's surely one of my favorite summer go-to salads. The produce is at it's peak and can be purchased directly from the farm, while the rest is likely already stocked up in your pantry or refrigerator. Simple, outstanding, and healthy. My kind of greens!

Spinach Strawberry Salad Vinaigrette 


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar (cider would probably be delish too)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika (I prefer Hungarian) 
a few quick dashes of cayenne (depending on your preferred level of heat)
1/4 teaspoon worcestershire
1 shallot finely minced
1 Tablespoon sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon poppy seeds


1. In a smal bowl whisk all ingredients together. Chill in the fridge for at least one hour. 
2. Pour over your bowl of fresh greens, strawberries, and toasted almonds. 
3. Dig in and enjoy!