Besides warmer weather, more sunshine and the glorious countdown to the end of the school year, May also brings us berries. Vibrant red strawberries, plump pie-ready blueberries, and blackberries bursting with gushy goodness. And oh the double dates we can conjure up:
– strawberries with rhubarb to celebrate the sweet and sour
– blackberries with peaches to create a crisp your friends and family will never forget
– blueberries in pancakes for a yummy start to a warm Sunday morning.
Which reminds me of Mother’s Day. My kids have started a tradition of preparing breakfast on Mother’s Day, but with my blog-writing, the stakes seem to have gone up. Boxed pancake mix just isn’t good enough anymore. So they rose early and three tries later, I was eating this plate of blueberry buckwheat pancakes without ever touching a utensil or turning on the stove. But the carved strawberries were the real star of the show, don’t you think?
Marrying Sweet Berries with a Savory Salad
You’ve just bought the six-pack of strawberries at Costco or the Farmer’s Market and you only have 2 or 3 days to polish it off before they are past their prime. How about adding them into your salad ?
I offered to bring a salad to the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon at my daughter’s school this week. Decided to make something simple but a little different. So I put together a spinach salad with goat cheese, toasted pecans, and strawberries, dressed with a homemade strawberry balsamic vinaigrette.
I considered taking a shortcut and buying a bottle of salad dressing but after studying even the “healthy” versions at the grocery store, I just couldn’t buy the bottled dressings. They all started with sugar or water as a first ingredient. Why? This post is not a rant on packaged food so let’s just say I decided to create my own. But it was oh so easy.
Strawberry Spinach Salad with Toasted Pecans and Goat Cheese and Strawberry Balsamic Dressing
(serves about 8 as a first course, 4 as a main course)
Fresh strawberries, about 1 cup sliced
1/3 cup Balsamic Vinegar
3/4 cup Olive oil
Fresh thyme or basil – to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
10 oz Pre-washed spinach or wash your own
Raw pecans, toasted *
1/2 cup plain goat cheese
Strawberries, about 10 or 15 sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
*You can toast nuts by placing on a baking sheet in a toaster oven or in a regular oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them – they go from deliciously toasty to burnt rather quickly.
To prepare the dressing:
Put sliced strawberries and balsamic vinegar into a blender; liquefy briefly. Add in fresh herbs (thyme or basil) and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Then add the olive oil. Blend until the oil combines well with the other ingredients – it will change color and texture as it does. Take cover off and taste – add more salt, pepper, or fresh herbs if needed. (You can stream in the olive oil slowly, but I didn’t and it worked just fine)
To prepare the salad:
Place spinach in a bowl or on a large platter. In any order that you like, place toasted pecans, sliced strawberries, and crumbled goat cheese on top. Salt and pepper to taste then serve with the strawberry balsamic vinaigrette. If you are serving this as a main course, add chicken (store-bought rotisserie chicken on a busy weeknight will do just fine)
What is your favorite salad to celebrate the arrival of warm weather?