If you are a salad lover, you’re my hero. Please teach me your ways. Please tell me how one can truly have the thought “All I want right now is a salad,” and “If I could eat a salad for every meal, I’d be in complete bliss.” Feel free to unleash your salad-loving magic powers and turn me into a lettuce junkie.
Until then, I’m sticking with the age old adage, “Fake it ’til you make it.” I’ll keep on keepin’ on–painting delusions of grandeur when it comes to eating leaves. Then maybe someday I’ll be like you salad superheroes and stop daydreaming of meat and potatoes.
Don’t despair just yet. (I know you were close.) I come bearing good news regarding this seemingly tragic tale. This. This Strawberry Basil Salad. It tastes like springtime. It nearly convinces me to lounge in a flower-filled field saturated with sunbeams and the whispering wind. With the sweetness of the strawberries and coolness of the mandarins, paired with aromatic basil, crunchy walnuts, and tangy goat cheese, my tastebuds are happy–they haven’t been fooled by a nice idea. This salad reminds me that some things can change. (Now, let’s not go too far here… not every salad is as honest as this one.)
I have enjoyed this salad for two dinners (TWO) this week and plan on going back for more today. And no, I’m not evolving. This salad just happens to be that kind of good.
Before you scurry off to make your own springtime-wonder-salad, I need to tell you about this vinaigrette. There is an obvious beauty in combining olive oil and balsamic vinegar. But add honey and garlic for added sweet and savory? Out of control. We had to restrain ourselves from spoon-feeding each other this vinaigrette. (Maybe not. But licking the bowl? You better believe it.) I’m already making a list of how many recipes I can manage to use this in. Please go on and enjoy this lovely bowl–perhaps while relaxing in the grass listening to Strawberry Fields Forever.
Strawberry Basil Salad*
Yield: Serves 2
6 cups baby spinach leaves (option to replace a portion of the spinach leaves with romaine)
1/2 oz basil, chopped (a couple of loosely packed tablespoons)
2 cups strawberries, sliced
1 mandarin orange
1/4 red onion, sliced (feel free to omit if you dislike raw onions)
1 tablespoon goat cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped (option to substitute with pecans or simply add pecans)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
This salad could not be easier. Simply combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss. Dress with the honey balsamic vinaigrette and serve immediately.
*Also delicious when topped with a grilled chicken breast.
Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1 garlic clove, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Combine balsamic vinegar and EVOO in a jar (preferably with a lid). Then slowly whisk in the honey. Add minced garlic and salt and pepper to taste (starting with a couple small pinches and a few good grinds). Give it a good shake and drizzle on this super fresh, perfectly sweet salad.