Spring may have finally sprung in Charlotte!
Only a few days after a freak April snowstorm, Charlotteans are running around in shorts and flip flops and blasting the air conditioning.
I’m driving home in daylight, even when I work late.
There are lots of baby birds and bunnies and … insects.
Not to mention pollen! Just this morning I was walking out to my car, asking myself what the h*ll I had been thinking to puchase a car in such an ugly yellowish-green color. Then, halfway to work, the coffee kicked in and I went, “Ooooh, pollen, riiiight.”
And then there’s the first strawberries of the year. Or at least the first good berries, the first ones that actually have flavor.
One thing I love to do with strawberries is make strawberry salads. I have two versions – the “dessert” version I’m showing you today, and a heartier, “meal” version I’ll share later.
Why do I call it a dessert salad? Because with the berries, nuts, and sweet poppyseed dressing, it tastes like dessert! A salad that tastes so good you can’t believe it is actually healthy for you, even though it is! A salad to eat AFTER your main meal, not before!
I also enjoy eating this for breakfast sometimes. I know, salad for breakfast sounds strange, but when it’s this sweet and fruity, and it’s a hot day – it works.
This is more a template than a recipe, and sometimes I ponder the value in sharing those. But every time I bring one of these Strawberry Dessert Salads with me to work, people always oooh and aaah and ask me for the “recipe.”
“Dudes! Dudettes!” I usually shout. “This is a salad – you know, you toss healthy stuff together in a bowl until it looks sorta appetizing.” And then I realize that this sh*t I take for granted, is actually sh*t a lot of people haven’t yet learnt to do.
So … let’s start! You will need:
A handful or two of leafy greens. Spinach is traditional, but I enjoy using “spring mix.” (Just seems really appropriate with the spring berries!) Choose your favorite. Just avoid anything too crunchy, like iceburg or romaine.
Strawberries. Duh! What would a strawberry salad be without strawberries? Core and chop in half. How many to use? However many looks good to you! Here, I was just making a small “dessert salad” and my strawberries were large so I just used three. If I was eating this for breakfast, I’d use twice as many.
Nuts. Pecans and sliced almonds are the most traditional, but who’s to say you can’t use walnuts or even seeds, like sunflower seeds? Again, pick your favorite. Add however much feels right to you. If you are making this as a breakfast salad, you may want a few more nuts for the satiating fat and protein. If you’re making this as a side salad or dessert, you might want less.
Add other berries. Blueberries are my favorite berry to pair with strawberries. Blackberries also work well. How many? You’ve heard the phrase, “Eat the rainbow?” When making a salad, add things (in this case, berries) until you get a pleasing color balance. At that point it’s almost certain to taste delicious.
Finally, dressing. Since this salad is just fruit and nuts and greens, the ideal topping is a sweet poppyseed dressing.
(BTW, this is also an excellent Fourth of July dish with the red strawberries, blue blueberries, and white poppy seed dressing.)
I wish I had a good, homemade poppy seed recipe to share with you, but I haven’t had much luck yet with making my own. I use Briannas Poppy Seed Dressing (no, Briannas is not compensating me in any way for saying this). It’s sweet, but not too sweet and unlike many other commercial poppy seed dressings, it is vegan.
OK! Hopefully this was helpful/inspirational to some newbies and if you aren’t a newbie, hopefully you weren’t too bored.
Next I’ll be sharing a more savory type of strawberry salad, a lunchtime or dinner salad.
And if you were bored, maybe I can make it up to you with these pictures of Scruff Muffin and his new little brother, Romeo.