I admit it; I was caught ogling the strawberries again! I just can’t help myself. June and July are the peak months of strawberry season, and this year’s crop quality has been exceptional. These heart-shaped gems are sweet yet tart, and firm yet juicy. Because of their luscious taste and culinary diversity, strawberries are nature’s most fashionable summer fruit.
In this recipe, strawberries take center stage against a backdrop of spinach greens. Basil lends its quintessential fresh-from-the-garden flavor, while sliced almonds add a touch of crunch and protein. I like to dress this salad with equal parts extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Serve as a side dish to accompany an alfresco meal, or enjoy as a light lunch on a warm day.
Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Almonds
5 ounces prewashed baby spinach
2 cups sliced strawberries, stems removed
1 cup basil leaves, torn
½ cup sliced almonds, toasted optional
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
Sea or flake salt
- In a large bowl, gently combine the spinach, strawberries, basil, and almonds.
- In a small bowl, whisk the oil and vinegar. Taste using a spinach leaf and adjust as desired. (Use more oil if the ratio is too acidic for you.)
- Pour the dressing over the salad. Season with salt and toss well.
- Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Dried Cranberries. Add ½ cup of dried cranberries.
- Spinach-Berry Salad with Almonds. Reduce the strawberries to 1 cup, and add ½ cup of fresh blueberries.
- Spinach-Strawberry Salad with Walnuts. Replace the sliced almonds with 1 cup of walnuts, roughly chopped.
Toast nuts before adding them to your salad to draw out their natural flavors. Instructions: Place a pan over medium heat. Add the nuts in a single layer. Cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning (they burn quickly). When done, they will have a rich, golden color and nutty aroma.
According to The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Wood, studies have shown that strawberries may have a tranquilizing effect—which is why medical supplies, like surgical gloves and children’s anesthesia, are often strawberry-scented.
If you’re making this salad ahead of time (or saving leftovers for lunch), wait until serving to toss with the dressing, salt, and nuts. The greens and nuts get soggy when dressed for too long.