A salad a day is de rigueur around here now that summer has arrived, which means I have to daily face my nemesis: washing greens.
As far as kitchen tasks go, I’d rather shuck corn, peel potatoes, heck, even dice an onion over washing lettuce. I’m not entirely sure why I despise it so much, but the years of salad duty - garde manger – in professional kitchens certainly didn’t spark any affection for the job, and nor did growing my own greens fan any flames.
In one particular restaurant, I was yelled at if the lettuce was gritty. Understandably. But I was also yelled at for taking too long if I took the time required to wash the greens thoroughly (a minimum of three times, if you were wondering). I couldn’t win.
Now baby spinach and beautiful red oak leaf lettuce are growing in my garden. The rain pounds down around them, splashing droplets of soil onto the undersides of their leaves and I see a summer of lettuce washing stretching ahead of me.
Making vinaigrette for my daily salads, however, is a task I do enjoy.
I’m a bit of a vinegar junkie, with nearly a dozen varieties in my pantry. I like to play around with infusions, like today’s strawberry vinegar. It’s a gorgeous way to highlight the berry in season and brightens up an everyday salad.
Sweet spring strawberries are blended with a pinch of sugar, then mixed with a white balsamic vinegar, and then left to ‘steep’ or infuse. Once the vinegar has been strained out, it can be mixed with olive oil for a simple, but vibrant vinaigrette that is perfect for spring greens.
Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Feta & Pine Nuts
One of my favorite spring salads begins with homemade strawberry vinaigrette (see recipe notes below) and finishes with a garnish of toasted nuts. It’s perfect for lunch or as a starter to dinner.
It’s also super easy:
- Lightly toast nuts of your choice – pecans, walnuts, slivered almonds or pine nuts – and roughly chop if needed.
- Toss baby spinach leaves and sliced strawberries in a light dressing of strawberry vinaigrette and pile into a bowl.
- Crumble creamy feta cheese on top of the salad (shaved parmesan would work, too).
- Top with toasted nuts and dig in!
|Fresh Strawberry Balsamic Vinegar||
- 2 cups hulled strawberries
- 2 teaspoons organic raw cane sugar
- 1 cup white balsamic vinegar
- Combine strawberries and sugar in a food processor or blender and puree until runny. It’s okay to have some chunks.
- Transfer strawberry mixture into a quart jar and pour in vinegar. Top jar with a lid and shake well.
- Let strawberry infusion stand for an hour or so.
- Shake vinegar once again and strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a pint jar. It will take about 10 minutes to completely drip through.Discard the strawberry solids.
- Your strawberry vinegar is now ready to use or you can cover the jar with a lid and store, refrigerated, for a few weeks.
What is a favorite spring salad?