Ha! I bet you didn’t even know that there is a National Strawberry Day, did you? Well, there is, and it is today, February 27th. When I realized that I almost missed such an (ahem) important day, I decided I really needed to investigate further. Are there other food holidays; how come I didn’t know about them?!
Well, sure enough, there is an actual food holiday calendar. In fact, there is more than one, but they all have one thing in common. Marketers have created these special days to honor and pay tribute to a variety of CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) food items to get us to buy them. That’s okay by me I guess because marketing and innovation go hand in hand. And I am always interested in learning new things about food and cooking so I can create and try out new dishes on friends and family.
Indeed, I don’t like to repeat recipes too often; I get bored with it all. Allen, my kids, and friends would sometimes day, “This is really good; can we please have it again?” So, I do try to write down new creations, make notes on old recipes when I have changed them, and try to remember who likes what. But I will always be looking for new ideas, and will always be ready to try something new.
Now don’t worry, I won’t inundate you with a new food post every day. I mean, who REALLY wants to celebrate National Toss a Fruitcake Day?!
But National Strawberry Day was intriguing, and since we Michiganders can now get decent strawberries even this time of year, I decided to share a favorite Spinach and Strawberry Salad recipe. Allen wasn’t too sure about strawberries in a salad when I first mentioned it, but he, as usual, was willing to try it and loved it. I do have to mention, though, that Allen’s VERY favorite strawberry dessert is this recipe for Strawberry Shortcake.
The second recipe below is one of those “not really a recipe” favorites of his. I am sharing it today–on a cold February Day, but it really is best during the summer when those Michigan strawberries are fresh, juicy, delicious and readily available.
There are many versions of Spinach Strawberry Salads. Many of them have a sweet dressing, but Allen liked this savory rendition. When I made it this time I added a piece of grilled salmon on top to make it a complete meal.
You can make the dressing with olive oil and just about any good vinegar. I like chive flower vinegar in the summer because it is so light. During the winter, I usually use balsamic vinegar because it is hearty and aromatic. Recently, though, I splurged on a bottle of sherry vinegar, so I decided to try it instead of the balsamic. Sherry vinegar is aged and fermented in oak barrels. I think it was a nice twist and complimented the fruitiness of the strawberries without overpowering them.
Fill your bowl with spinach and sprinkle the sliced strawberries and toasted nuts over top. You can use whatever nuts you have on hand, but it is best to use slivered, sliced or pieces of nuts rather than whole nuts. Then you can get everything on the fork for a whole mouthful of flavor at once. I love toasted nuts, and since I already had toasted slivered almonds, I used those.
I used to make this salad with feta cheese only. The saltiness of the feta was great with the sweet strawberries. That was always Allen’s preference, but this time I decided to try goat cheese, and it also worked, even though it was different from the original. The creaminess of the goat cheese made the whole salad more unctuous, luscious, and I enjoyed it. Finally, I added the grilled salmon and drizzled the dressing all over top -Yummy!
(But I can almost hear Allen now, “This is good dear, but I still like the feta cheese better.”)
SPINACH STRAWBERRY SALAD
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic, chive flower, or sherry vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon granulated onion or onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground pepper
- About 6 cups baby spinach
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups sliced strawberries
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese or goat cheese
- 1/4 cup chopped or slivered toasted nuts of choice
- Grilled salmon, tuna, chicken; optional
Whisk oil, vinegar, garlic, onion, salt and pepper together in a glass measuring cup. Set aside while assembling salad. Combine spinach, strawberries, feta or goat cheese and nuts in a large bowl. Drizzle about half of the dressing over top and toss to coat. Pass additional dressing for those who want more. Add optional ingredients if using.
AND A QUICK STRAWBERRY DESSERT:
Now here is the other strawberry dish I mentioned; a super simple non-recipe that Allen and the kids loved during the summer. I especially liked the no-cook aspect on hot summer days.
You may want to remember it when our Michigan summer turns humid. Simply rinse the berries and pile them up in a pretty bowl. Set out two smaller dishes of light sour cream and soft brown sugar. Full fat sour cream is too heavy for this.
Then let your guests pile dollops of the sour cream on their plates, add a small pile of brown sugar, and a whole lotta strawberries. The green stem is a great handle for dipping the berry in sour cream and then a bit of brown sugar. That’s it–just set it all out and watch everyone have fun.