Sunday, August 19, 2012

Strawberry, Arugula, and Spinach Salad

Closeup of Salad from Above
Pine Nuts and Parmesan Add Contrast

Recipe by Robin

We’re in the time that old-timers call the dog days of summer: hot, sultry days that are noticeably shorter than June’s. It’s the final hurrah, the wrap-up of summer, a time to appreciate being outdoors in shorts and sandals, sitting around the yard relaxing, tending the garden, or heading to the beach for some sun and fun. Cooking elaborate dinners in a hot kitchen? Not so much.

Bowl of greens and strawberries, plates of pine nuts and Parmesan
Simple Salad Ingredients
Salads are perfect for this time of year as lettuces and other greens are plentiful. They’re a fresh addition to barbecues and other party foods. Strawberries are hanging in there too, and this recipe is simpler than my Strawberry Salad with Strawberry Dressing from the summer solstice, mostly because the dressing is less complicated. You could choose to switch dressing, though, if you have extra strawberries and extra energy.

I used agave syrup as sweetener in the dressing, because it’s a thin liquid that blends easily. You could substitute sugar or honey, which will be a bit more work to blend in. You might want to heat up the honey till it’s as thin as possible. Just be sure that the dressing is at room temperature or below when you dress the salad.

Bowl lined with Berries, Bowl of Greens
Lining Bowl with Strawberries
Because the strawberries can weight down the greens, I lined a glass bowl with most of the strawberry slices and put just a few on the top, along with the Parmesan and pine nuts. It looks best in a glass bowl, which you can buy inexpensively at Ikea or World Market.

You can cut this recipe in half to serve 4 – 5. Use 1 pint (or a little more) of strawberries and 6 cups mixed greens. Use a couple of pinches of pepper in the dressing, or to taste.

Salad Bowl with Salad
Glass Bowl Makes Best Display
Strawberry, Arugula, and Spinach Salad
serves 8 – 10

1 large bunch arugula
2 bunches spinach
2/3 cup pine nuts
3 oz. parmesan cheese
~2 pint strawberries
4 tbsp. (¼  cup) aged balsamic vinegar
2 tsp. agave syrup
4 tbsp. fruity olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Prepare the spinach and arugula well enough in advance to dry thoroughly. Wash, remove tough stems, and spin. Let dry completely, then tear into bite-size leaves and toss together. You should have about 12 cups total. Chill.

Toast the pine nuts in a no-stick or cast iron pan over medium low heat until slightly brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove immediately to plate and allow to cool completely.

Microplane the parmesan cheese, or grate on coarsest side of box grater.

Hull the strawberries and slice thinly. You will have about 4 cups. Line a medium glass or plastic salad bowl with strawberries as far up the edge as you can. Add mixed greens to bowl. Continue adding strawberries along the bowl’s edge, saving some for the top.

Sprinkle Parmesan cheese and toasted pine nuts over top of greens. Top with reserved strawberries. Chill until serving time.

Prepare the dressing by whisking together balsamic vinegar, agave syrup, salt, and pepper until well blended. Whisk in the olive oil till emulsified.

Dress and toss the salad just before serving.

1 comment:

  1. This one really is a winner. Besides being a beautiful work of art to take to a potluck dinner or start out a great dinner party, it is a great way to use arugula that balances out its bitter flavor with the milder spinach, sweet strawberries, toasty rich pine nuts and just enough strong balsamic vinegar to complement the strawberries without overpowering them.

    I am not usually a fan of arugula, especially raw in salads but in this one it was great.