Two recipes for strawberry salads, great ways to show off spring strawberries. Strawberry Pepper Salad is better with tender home-grown strawberries but no worry, Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppyseed Dressing works beautifully with supermarket strawberries. Both use candied almonds, gorgeous orbs of nutty sweetness.
"Holy moly ... may be the world's best use of strawberries." ~Jo Beth
"Strawberries with almonds and parmesan and pepper.... mmm!" ~Anonymous
Each year, as the last days of May slip into the first hours of June, the local strawberries are fat and juicy and perfect.
The season seems to last a whole ten seconds, a couple of weeks at most – but only in a good year, for reality depends on sun and rain and temperature, the unpredictability a reminder of who’s really in charge.
But each year I wait in anticipation, hoarding special ways to use nature’s perfect ruby gems. A few out of the hand; small bowls swimming in fresh cream; shortcake. These top the list but then curiosity sets in.
Last year I hosted a strawberry feast, four courses starring local berries. The favorite among kids and grown-ups alike was a surprise, a simple Strawberry Pepper Salad, just berries macerated in a touch of sugar and balsamic vinegar spiked with pepper, the juices topping buttery lettuce. The combination of sweet and heat, sweet and sour, it’s magical, worthy of real berries.
But when supermarket berries are what’s available, try a STRAWBERRY SPINACH SALAD with a homemade POPPY SEED DRESSING. Whisk together 2 tablespoons white vinegar, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon minced red onion, 1 teaspoon poppy seeds and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Toss with fresh baby spinach, then top with sliced strawberries, candied almonds and feta cheese crumbles.
STRAWBERRY PEPPER SALAD
with CANDIED ALMONDS & SHAVED PARMESAN
Time to table: 40 minutes
- 1 pint ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
- 1 tablespoon good balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 – 3 three grinds of black pepper (yes, pepper!)
- 1/2 tablespoon butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup whole almonds
- Salad greens, preferably leafy green or red leafy lettuce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Fresh Parmesan cheese (see TIPS)
MACERATE BERRIES Combine berries, vinegar, sugar and pepper in a small bowl. Let rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes for flavors to meld.
MAKE CANDIED ALMONDS Melt butter and brown sugar in a small skillet over medium heat. Add almonds and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often and adjusting heat to avoid burning, until almonds are brown and aromatic, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate in a single layer to cool.
MAKE SALADS Arrange fresh salad greens on plates. Spoon a tablespoon of berry-vinegar juice over greens, then arrange strawberry slices and candied nuts on top. Top with freshly ground pepper and strips of fresh Parmesan.
Strawberry Spinach Salad
with Homemade Poppyseed Dressing
This salad does just beautifully with supermarket strawberries. Save the precious home-grown strawberries for Strawberry Pepper Salad!
Gorging on Strawberries
Favorite Fruity Salads from A Veggie Venture
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~ Strawberry Spinach Salad with Poppy Seed Vinaigrette ~
~ Candied Almonds ~
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