Strawberry Spinach Salad

This may seem like a highly improbable combination, but it works. The key to this salad is to keep it simple so that the contrasting flavors of the sweet berries, the earthy spinach, and the dressing interact clearly. Two dressings work here; one is a Balsamic vinaigrette with honey mustard, and the other is the same dressing with toasted sesame oil and a couple drops of soy sauce added. Again, keep it simple, and if you go with the Sesame Balsamic dressing, go easy with the sesame oil. It should only be a hint. Use your sharpest knife when slicing the strawberries.

INGREDIENTS:

8-10 cups cleaned and ready to go baby spinach leaves
2 to 2 1/2 cups strawberries, stemmed, cleaned, and sliced tip to stem into 1/8 inch thick slices
1/2 cup sliced roasted almonds
1 cup Sesame Balsamic Vinaigrette or Honey Mustard Balsamic Vinaigrette
Large flake salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with just enough dressing to lightly coat it. Divide between four plates.

Put the sliced strawberries into the bowl and add a little dressing if needed. The berries should be lightly coated. Distribute evenly over the spinach.

Scatter the almonds over the salads.

Lightly season with pepper and scatter a few salt flakes over the salads. Serve right away.

Chef’s Notes:

  • If you feel the need to add more things to the salad, keep it light. 1 cup of oyster mushrooms torn into shreds would work, as would thinly sliced button mushrooms.
  • Arugula sprouts or even some tender arugula leaves would echo the nuttiness of the sesame dressing and so work, or frisee would be a nice contrast to the strawberries.
  • Whichever dressing you make, avoid using a strong flavored olive oil as it will overwhelm the berries.

YIELD: 4 servings

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