In my last post, I shared a “template” for what I call a Strawberry Dessert Salad. It’s a classic salad with berries, nuts, and sweet poppyseed dressing that I eat after a meal, as a healthy “dessert”. Or, on hot summer mornings I will sometimes eat it for breakfast.
But what if you want something a little more substantial – you know, a meal salad? Today, as promised, I’m sharing my “template” for a Strawberry Meal Salad that is a satisfying and filling lunch or light dinner.
Some of you may be rolling your eyes at a “template” for a salad. But I have found many people appreciate a walk-through. It aids in understanding why certain flavors work together and how to create a visually appealing dish. It also illustrates how fast and easy it is!
Let’s get started, shall we?
First, you need a handful – or two! – of leafy greens! (This is a meal salad!) A handful of greens is approximately one cup – depending on how large your hands are – and one serving of raw leafy greens is two cups.
Spinach is traditional, but I also like using a spring mix. Use your favorite, or whatever you have on hand. (Butter lettuce, baby kale?) Try to avoid anything too crunchy like iceberg or romaine, or anything too assertive like arugula.
Add some veggies.
Red onion is traditional in many strawberry salads. Slice your onion, then soak the slices in water for a few minutes for a milder taste. How much onion to use? That’s entirely up to you. I recommend at least one slice of onion, with the rings separated and cut into smaller pieces. But if you like onion, you can certainly add more! Sweet Vidalia onions also work (and, to me, sometimes taste even better) but they’re not quite as pretty in the salad.
I love red bell pepper with strawberries. They look so pretty together, and the sweetness of the red bell pepper works perfectly with the sweetness of strawberries. Orange or yellow bell pepper will also work – just not look quite as pretty. Green peppers taste a little rawer and grassier.
Add some beans.
Beans add filling fiber and protein. I recommend white beans – Great Northern Beans, Cannellini, Navy. White beans have a milder taste and creamier texture which goes better with fruit. Other beans (such as black beans, pintos, black eyed peas) have an earthier taste. This salad is absolutely divine if you use cooked dried white beans, but I usually use canned beans – drained and rinsed. How much? Half a cup (one serving) is a good baseline – you can add more if you are really hungry.
Add strawberries and nuts.
A strawberry salad wouldn’t be a strawberry salad with strawberries and nuts! Use four to six strawberries, halved and hulled.
Pecans or sliced almonds are traditional. Here I used sliced almonds as they are a little “lighter” than pecans. But you can use whatever nuts you have on hand – like walnuts.
Add microgreens. Microgreens have recently become one of my favorite things to add to salads. They add flavor and eye appeal while being incredibly nutritious.
Add a handful of blueberries. Strawberries and blueberries together are one of my favorite fruit combinations and the blue with the red really makes the salad pop. Blackberries would also be delicious and striking. Raspberries are not my favorite taste pairing with strawberries – plus you lose that colorful contrast. (If you like raspberries, try a similar salad with raspberries and blackberries. The flavors are complementary plus you’ll get that dramatic contrast.)
Finally, salad dressing. Most of us reach for poppyseed dressing with a strawberry salad (that’s what I prefer when I make my Strawberry Dessert Salad). However, in this Strawberry Meal Salad we have some savory elements – red onion, white beans – and a sweet dressing might not be the best choice.
Did you know that strawberries are complemented by light vinaigrettes? I’m talking light, red wine viniagrettes – not extremely garlicky, Italian-style versions. Here I used Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette, which goes well with both the strawberries and the beans, and really helps tie the whole salad together.
So in 10 minutes, we just put together an incredibly nutritious, delicious, visually beautiful salad that is filling and satisfying!
Now, I must attend to my puppy. His big brother Scruffy is on a playdate today, and Romeo has been very bored without him.