Thursday, June 21, 2012

Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Dressing

Two bowls of salad with dressing on the side
Celebrating Strawberry Season

Recipe by Robin

Happy first full day of summer (for those of us in the northern hemisphere)! Hope you enjoyed your solstice yesterday.

I love serendipity. What’s not to love when you get the right answer without even knowing the question? I’d wanted to make a strawberry salad for some time, since Live Earth Farm, our CSA, is renowned for its strawberries. I wanted salty feta cheese and a variety of bitter and neutral greens to contrast with the sweet flavor of the strawberries. The spinach and arugula that were on our list to receive last week seemed perfect. However, life is not always predictable, especially when dealing with small scale local farming and Mother Nature.  Oh, the irony of having an actual use for the promised arugula (which my husband says tastes like dirt), and not having it in the fridge. And yet, digging a little deeper (literally, in the vegetable drawer), I found a reasonable substitute from past weeks.

Cup of Sliced Strawberries Being Poured into Salad
Add as Many Strawberries as You Like
The rediscovered head of radicchio: another green that we find challenging to use up because of its bitterness. I do like Sicilian Sauteed Radicchio, a bitter-sweet combination of radicchio and onions, but my husband doesn’t. I’ve tried sneaking it into salads, but am often busted. The sweet strawberries, particularly in the dressing, turned out to be the perfect foil for bitter radicchio.

Ingredients in most strawberry salads are similar: mixed greens, strawberries, nuts, and cheese. However, all sorts of dressings are paired with strawberry salad. Many contain significant amounts of vinegar and oil. Some are simply vinaigrettes with no strawberries at all. I wanted one that was mostly strawberries and naturally sweet with slight balsamic vinegar and even slighter salt notes. I used walnut oil because it’s lightly flavored. You might prefer almond or even olive oil. If your strawberries aren’t very sweet, you might want to increase the amount of agave. You could also substitute honey, which is a bit less sweet and harder to mix in. Lemon juice is key because its sourness compliments the sweet. You might substitute lime juice if you have it on hand.

Bowl of salad
Salad Before Dressing
You’ll probably have some leftover dressing. Use it on mixed fruit salads or on impromptu versions of strawberry salad using any proportion of strawberries and mixed greens. You can add almonds, walnuts, or pecans, or not. Top with feta or Parmesan cheese, or skip the cheese for a vegan salad.

This salad was a perfect potluck dish for the Live Earth Farm Summer Solstice Celebration last weekend. Since strawberries are in season throughout the summer months, try it for any and all of your summertime celebrations!

Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Dressing
serves about 8 – 12

2 cups sliced strawberries, about 1 pint basket
4 cups torn or chopped radicchio
4 cups torn butter lettuce
4 cups torn red leaf lettuce
1/3 cup sliced almonds
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese

Almonds and Knife on Cutting Board
Slicing Your Own Almonds
Mix together torn greens in salad bowl. Add sliced strawberries. Refrigerate.

You can use pre-split almonds, or split your own in half with a sharp knife. Hold the almond firmly between thumb and forefinger, exerting a bit of pressure. With your knife, use a gentle sawing action with the knife across the seam of the almond with gentle pressure till it splits (sometimes not right in the middle, that’s okay). It takes practice, but once you get this technique you won’t need to buy pre-sliced almonds for most uses.

Toast the almonds in toaster oven (regular oven works fine too) at 300 degrees F until fragrant and slightly brown. This will take about 6 minutes, but check at 3 minutes and stir. Check again every minute or so to avoid overcooking. Remove almonds to plate and let cool.

When almonds are completely cooled, sprinkle over salad. Top with feta. Just before serving add salad dressing and toss.

makes 1-1/3 cups

1½ cups sliced strawberries
3 tbsp.  balsamic vinegar
1½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. agave
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 tbsp. walnut oil

Puree sliced strawberries in an immersion blender cup.

Add balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, agave, salt and pepper. Blend again.

Add walnut oil and blend again. Keep refrigerated and use within a few days.

Strawberry Salad in Wooden Bowl with Tongs and Bottle of Strawberry Dressing
Popular Dish at Potlucks


  1. Wow, now that looks like one gorgeous salad!

  2. Thanks, Jodi, it's so simple to make when strawberries are in season. Looks like more work than it really is, unlike most potluck dishes I've tried! :)