In Season: Strawberry Spinach Salad

june-25-008A group of my college girlfriends recently had our annual reunion, and we each pitched in to bring a part of the meal.  Because I’d be travelling that day, I took salad duty (no cooking required!).  Considering what I do for a living, I always feel pressure to “produce” and I knew any ordinary salad would not do.  Since strawberries are at their peak right now, I wanted to incorporate them into the salad, but wanted to also include a little something different, so I combed the aisles of the grocery store looking for inspiration.

I often like to include nuts in my salads (walnuts, almonds, pine nuts, and pistachios are my favorites), but one of my friend’s children has a nut allergy, so nuts were out as an option.  I also like using dried fruit, and growing up we always had raisins in our salads.  Dried cherries, dried cranberries, and golden raisins are all fantastic additions to any salad.  On this day a big bag of dried figs caught my eye, and I knew immediately this would be my other secret ingredient. 

Using baby spinach leaves (much more nutritious than many salad greens, plus great color), I sliced up the strawberries and dried figs, then tossed with a balsamic vinaigrette.   When I recreated this salad at home the other night, I decided instead to make an orange-flavored vinaigrette, using some Orange Muscat Champagne vinegar I had in my pantry.  Regular orange juice straight from the container is a great substitute if you cannot find orange-flavored vinegar.  It will be sweeter and lack the “tang” of the vinegar, but still makes a tasty dressing. 

Strawberry Spinach Salad

Serves 4-6

1 – 6 oz bag baby spinach leaves

8 fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced

a handful of dried figs, sliced

3 tablespoons orange-flavored vinegar or orange juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Place the spinach, strawberries and figs in a large bowl.

Whisk together the vinegar (or orange juice), olive oil, and salt and pepper in a measuring cup or small bowl.  Pour over the top the salad and toss to combine.  Season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.

 

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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