many moons ago i was part owner of a small coffee shop. i was in charge of the culinary, rather than the financial, side of the business and that’s the way i liked it. during the spring, when the stars and planets aligned to allow spinach and strawberries to cross paths at the same time, we offered this salad. it was such a hit that we would sell out every time we had it and our customers would still request it when the season was over. what they didn’t realize, however, was that the reason it was so perfect was because the produce was at it’s peak. if we served it at any other time they would have been sorely disappointed. it is a coveted pleasure that is available only for a short time.
i have seen salads like this available at family friendly chain restaurants, usually saturated in some sort of ‘fruit flavored’ vinaigrette dressing. i find that serving this with a fruity dressing can render it rather sweet and cloying. a dressing with just a touch of sweetness allows the fruit flavor to really shine. try this one:
get your oil and vinegars ready-i used walnut oil, balsamic and red wine vinegars.
start in a generous bowl and add your vinegars, one at a time. the balsamic is for sweetness, while the red wine vinegar gives that tangy, tart flavor.
add the ever important salt.
and LOTS of freshly ground black pepper. maybe more than you think. just give it a taste. black pepper goes surprisingly well with strawberries.
whisk in your oil slowly (or put all your ingredients in a jar and shake it-same diff.)
i like to dress the greens with the vinaigrette, then pile the other stuff on top. it makes for a prettier presentation, whether in a large bowl to show off at a potluck or on individual plates to show off at your next dinner party. enjoy this with a nice glass of dry rose from this place or somewhere else.
spinach strawberry salad (serves 4)
6-8 cups fresh baby spinach
8 fresh strawberrries (about 2 berries per salad), hulled and sliced
4 ounces fresh goat cheese
several slices purple onion, sliced VERY thin (as not to over power the salad)
a few handfuls of walnuts, toasted
balsamic vinaigrette-adapted from ruhlman’s vinaigrette ratio
1 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
salt & LOTS of freshly ground black pepper
6 tbsp walnut oil
stir the vinegars together in a bowl. add salt & pepper. whisk in the oil slowly. pour over the spinach and toss. place in serving bowl or individual plates. place strawberries, goat cheese, sliced onion, and walnuts on top.