We’re still adapting to the seasonal rhythms of Southern California. After a few decades of familiar weather patterns my body is expecting June thunderstorms and lush greenery. Instead we are preparing for “June Gloom” as the cloudiest month is called here and a monthly average of 0.09 inches of rain. Peonies and rhubarb stalks don’t burst forth after the thaw here, a trade-off for palm trees and sunny skies.
As my friends in the Midwest email me, gleeful over their first heap of spring greens from their CSAs, we say goodbye to California’s strawberry season and get ready for tomatoes. It amazing the difference a few months can make. In February those first juicy berries tasted of sunshine and magic. Now we’re trying to get through them before they spoil, wondering when stone fruit season starts here.
Most of our strawberries and just rinsed and eaten as snacks. I’ve layered a few on top of tarts, sliced them over yogurt, and made them into tasty adult beverages. Generally I think of fruit for sweet dishes (most savory-themed fruit sauces pair with meat), but sometimes I overlook how much I like adding fruit to salads. Strawberries and balsamic vinaigrette? Sign me up.
On that topic, after years of having “low fat” beaten into our heads, don’t be scared of good salad dressing. The fat in vegetable oil helps your body absorb the nutrients in your healthy salad better than just eating lettuce. You’re better off drizzling your dressing than not, and making a 3-minute vinaigrette at home is much better than any jar of preservative-laden stuff from the store. Plus, I can’t resist an emulsion.
How are you enjoying the first –or last– of your strawberries?
Springtime Salad with Strawberries
Seriously, it’s a salad. Measurements are optional. Directions are given for the vinaigrette, but splashing the oil and vinegar straight onto the salad is just fine.
- a few handfuls spring mix or arugula
- a few leaves of fresh basil
- a few ripe strawberries
- one or two forkfuls goat cheese
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add lettuce to a bowl. Slice or tear basil leaves and add to lettuce.
- Whisk together vinegar, mustard, and oil until an emulsion forms. Salt to taste. Toss with lettuce.
- Slice strawberries and add to salad. Crumble goat cheese on top. Top with a slight sprinkle of salt if needed and a crack of black pepper.
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